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.