Stir of Echoes Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 19, 2012
This supernatural thriller from David Koepp concerns Tom Witzky- a typical working class resident of Chicago just trying to live a decent life with his wife and young son. When it comes to the supernatural, Tom is a skeptic, but agrees to play along when some friends want to engage in what should be some harmless hypnotizing.

Not long after this supposed bit of fun, Tom begins to feel the presence of evil, and see the spirit of a deceased girl who had disappeared earlier. This latter part sees him become determined to discover the truth about the girl, hopefully bringing her closure and allowing him to return to life the way he was used to.

This is based on work by Richard Matheson,and, though I'm not familiar with the source material, I really dug this when looking at it on its own terms. There's a nice, spooky atmosphere, a good sense of dread and mystery, and some decent performances. Kevin Bacon is good in the lead, Kathryn Erbe is okay as his wife (and I will admit that I didn't mind her brief nude scene), and I liked Illeana Douglas as the woman who gets it all started.

Give this one a look. It's a well made, moody, and entertaining thrill ride.
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2012
Any time a ghost story film involves someone who sees dead people the benchmark Sixth Sense always seems to enter the conversation. In Stir of Echoes you have an earnest film that is more psychological than scary, yet kept afloat by a finely tuned script and some well grounded acting.

The film does a very good job of setting the time and place - creating a mood of regular people living regular lives until something extraordinary occurs. The script fleshes out the characters, and not just of the main leads but of some of the supporting characters as well - to the point you think you KNOW these people. Kevin Bacon is in the lead, and he's just fine, but it is in the interplay between the two sisters, Bacon's wife and sis- in law, that are the glue that make this yeast rise. Katheryn Erbe as Bacon's wife and especially Illeana Douglas as sis-in-law bring humanity and reality to their rolls - totally believable as just regular folk.

I'm not going to go too much into the ghost story as I don't want to give anything away; but of course, as I mentioned earlier, there will always be a comparison to Sixth Sense, which is a shame, for while holding some of the same elements, this wasn't meant to be a copycat.

The cinematography works very well throughout the film, especially the more surreal moments. The "under hypnosis" scene is wonderfully thought out and quite a joy to behold.

Really about the only thing holding this film back is the final act where things become just a bit too convenient and conventional, which is unfortunate as the build up and mystery are quite interesting. It's not that the climax is over the top hokum, but rather that it deals with human reactions that play false given the realism (an interesting term considering that this is a ghost story) that has gone on before.

I will mention that the film has a coda, and while not the revelation of Sixth Sense, it is rather haunting in its own right. And finally, as the credits role there's a very cool song by Poe that nicely ties in the entire screenplay.

A not perfect film, but surely a cut above the usual ghost story type genre.
Super Reviewer
½ October 15, 2011
I had been wanting to watch Stir of Echoes for quite some time. Reading about on horror websites and praising the film, I knew I had to check out. Unfortunately I never did, until recently. This film blends psychological horror and supernatural horror into a film that definitely chills you. The cast deliver great performances, and the main lead who is Kevin Bacon is terrific in the role he plays. Stir of Echoes is a good psychological horror film that keeps you guessing till the every end. Stir of Echoes is a brilliant supernatural/psychological horror film, and Kevin Bacon delivers a good performance here. The film has some good chilling moments that really terrify you. Stir of Echoes had had the misfortune of being released after The Sixth Sense, and was dubbed a rip-off by the audience. I don't believe that is the case, Stir of Echoes may be the same type of horror film, but the film strays away enough from The Sixth Sense to be different, interesting and horrifying. Stir of Echoes is an underrated film and definitely should be seen by every horror fan. The cast is brilliant, the plot is engrossing and there are plenty of good, chilling moments to appeal to a selective horror audience. Stir of Echoes is a fine Supernatural horror film that definitely doesn't deserve the label "a Sixth Sense rip-off". This film is entertaining enough to keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end. A good, well plotted film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2011
With a promising start, the film seemed building up to something real good, only to completely fall apart in the final third.
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2007
This contains okay performances but the plot is full of holes and the resolution is farfetched.
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2010
I've been wanting to see this film for ages and it didn't disappoint. I don't think the second half of the film was as strong as the first but I did find it to be very creepy and full of suspense. The cinematography was ace too, the scene in the cinema were he floats about in his armchair, brilliant!
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2009
i dont know how many times ive rated this (thanks, flixster) but yea, this was my favorite treat of summer of '99
Super Reviewer
½ November 18, 2009
A really great movie that sort've gets forgotten due to other's like The Ring, Sixth Sense, etc. It's a great story and actually scary, not many horrors have that combination. Kevin Bacon is what makes this movie above average, his total commitment to the role is amazing. He even got the Chicago accent down 100%. I like that it has a strange family quality to it that you don't get in many horrors, almost like Poltergeist where you see the family functioning before everything gets crazy. Overall, it's well written, directed and acted.
Super Reviewer
½ June 17, 2006
Jake Witzky: Does it hurt to be dead?

A solid psychological thriller, with Kevin Bacon giving a strong lead performance. Arriving and being overshadowed by the Sixth Sense back in 1999, the film has a similar plot and tone, and while it may not be as good, this film still manages to provide a fresh take on a ghost story.

Loosely based on the Richard Matheson (the I Am Legend story) novel of the same name, Bacon stars as Tom, a regular working man, living with his wife and young son in Chicago. One night during a party, Tom, his wife Maggie, and their sister Lisa discuss hypnotism with the rest of their friends. It seems Lisa practices hynpo-therapy, but Tom is very much a skeptic. Convinced to try, Tom lets Lisa hypnotise him, only to have it work more effectively than planned.

Arriving back at home, Tom begins to experience short bursts of visions. These visions are confusing to both we, the audience, and Tom. It seems to be a crime being committed against a woman, who also appears to Tom in another freaky vision. Tom may seem crazy, with eventual instructions by his visions to dig, causing him to take the instruction to heart, but his son also experiences visions, maybe even stronger than his father.

Tom: I'm supposed to dig.

A quick observation about ghost stories. When its a serious type horror film, ghosts tend to communicate in annoyingly cryptic messages, instead of outright telling you what the problem/situation is. When its a more light-hearted comedic film, ghosts will not only tell you what's going on, but basically hang out with you and provide comic relief. Writer/director David Koepp, better known for scripting some Spielberg blockbusters like Jurassic Park as well as Spider-Man, has directed both types of ghost stories. Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais was one, and this is the other. In these serious films, it doesn't help that all the familiar beats are hit, but the point I'm getting at here, is that this film is made well enough that the standard developments aren't as much of a problem.

Bacon is very good in this film. His portrayal of average Joe getting visions and becoming obsessed is handled very well. The son also does a good job. I really enjoyed the wife Maggie, played by Kathryn Erbe, as well. Maggie doesn't just sit back and worry, there are some fun elements that she brings to the character that fit quite well.

The film stumbles a bit when the convenience of a helpful character arriving occurs, as well as some of the turns in the last act, but for the most part, this is a very solid film, that does a good job of accomplishing what it has set out to do.

Tom Witzky: I never wanted to be famous. I just never expected to be so...
Maggie Witzky: What?
Tom Witzky: I don't know, ordinary.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2009
"Stir of Echoes" is a great horror/thriller movie. Tom (Kevin Bacon) tries being hypnotized one day at a party and he finds out that he is one of the few people that can be deeply and easily hypnotized. Now he's seeing visions of a teenage girl that was murdered and these visions drive him insane. Tom will do anything it takes to find the remains of this girl if it's the last thing he does. Of course his insane behavior is driving his wife (Kathryn Erbe) up the wall, but he can't let her bother him. However, his son (Zachary David Cope) seems to understand because he can see the visions of the girl even better than Tom can. Tom has to find a way to suppress these supernatural visions before he really does go insane.
"Stir of Echoes" is a great movie in every way. The acting is good, the suspense is great, and it was definitely one of the best movies of the year if you ask me. If it wouldn't have came out in the theatres at almost the same time as "The Sixth Sense," it would've been a more popular movie and it wouldn't be underrated like it is now. I recommend anybody who likes horror movies to get "Stir of Echoes," you won't regret it. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2001.
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2009
"Some doors weren't meant to be opened."

After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around her.

On the heels of the great "Sixth Sense" comes this second kid-who-talks-to-ghosts movie. In this one, the father can also communicate with spirits, as he discovers (to his horror) after being hypnotized at a neighborhood beer-guzzling party. Kevin Bacon plays the father in one of his best performances yet, sympathetically portraying a young blue collar worker who is horrified not just by ghosts, but by the way his life is sinking into depressing ordinariness. The horror plot is developed a bit too slowly for a thriller, but it has some strong moments, and the denouement is thoroughly satisfying, even if it lacks the jaw-dropping climax of "Sixth Sense." The atmosphere and day-to-day details of the working class Chicago neighborhood are very well captured, especially for a genre movie.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2008
Why are there so many movies where the characters can see ghosts? The movie is pretty good. Kevin Bacon plays the dad who is haunted by the ghost he sees. When she asks him to dig, he doggedly digs everything he can in the yard and house. I enjoyed the performances of all the major characters - the father, mother and 5 yr old son.
Super Reviewer
½ November 22, 2007
Brilliant film, well acted and a brilliant storyline i really like this movie its a supernatural thriller really and its really good!!!
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2009
Not as great as I'd expected. It's an average haunted house movie mixed with the theme of hypnotism and psychic power. Better than THE SHINING though.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2007
I have a soft spot for Kevin Bacon, so I give it 3 stars. It starts out interesting with the hypnosis thing, then by the end of the film it is just another "ghost trying to tell you who killed it" story.
Super Reviewer
October 30, 2008
Among ghost stories, this one is really something special. The most striking I think it how unspecial (and thus realistic) all the characters and settings seem to be. This is one of those movies that gave me the impression that I was watching a bunch of my friends (or, given the age difference, my parents' friends) going about thier daily lives. That element makes it all the creepier when spooky stuff starts happening around them. This movie has that and more going for it, least of all its technical flair. I do believe that this was one of the first (if not THE first) film to use the jerky-slow motion ghost photography that went on to explode in Japanese horror. I think this film would even work for people who don't necesarily like horror. Again, this film is really special.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2007
A cracking thriller. If you liked What lies beneath you should like this.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2007
This spooky-thriller film is even to the same year's movie release, The Sixth Sense. Director-scripter displays plenty of imagination as a visual stylist: the key murder, shown through the eyes of the victim rather than the killer, is nothing short of chilling, in terms of conveying the sheer, ghastly horror of the moment.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2007
Creepy and good. Kevin Bacon did a great job on this flick. There were a few bits that seemed to fall by the wayside such as the small group of people he meets up with that seem to have the same gift as he does. All in all it is a good story and has a little creep factor wrapped inside.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2007
Impressive supernatural thriller with a standout performance from Kevin Bacon.
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