RELEASED: 1999, Cert.15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 99 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: David Koepp
PRODUCERS: Judy Hofflund & Gavin Polone
MUSIC: James Newton Howard
Kevin Bacon as Tom Witzky
Kathryn Erbe as Maggie Witzky
Zachary David Cope as Jake Witzky
Illeana Douglas as Lisa Weil
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Based on Richard Matheson's novel of almost the same name, Stir Of Echoes gets underway when Tom Witzky and his wife Maggie are at a social gathering with some of their friends. A heated discussion begins as to the effectiveness or otherwise of hypnosis, with Tom arguing his point from the anti side. Lisa Weil, who claims to have studied and gained a qualification in hypnosis insists she can put Tom 'under', and although reticent at first, he (Tom) reluctantly agrees, more because he believes he can prove Lisa wrong than anything else.
Lisa manages to successfully hypnotise Tom, and he subsequently begins to 'see' things. These things are fleeting and inexplicable, passing through Tom's inner vision in flashes so brief, that he can't hold onto them for long enough to make sense of them. After a while, he realises that his little son Jake has the same ability, and the two of them are able to both see and speak to the spirit of a young girl who appears to be haunting their house.
Maggie gets very worried about Tom due to his behaviour becoming more and more obsessive as he tries to make sense of his and Jake's 'visions'.
That loosely sets the plot....and, as usual, you must see the film yourself to learn more.
I first decided to buy and watch Stir Of Echoes, simply because I liked the title and felt that to dream up such a name for a film, chances could be fair that it may live up to my expectations.
I found the first part of Stir Of Echoes not dull exactly, but I wasn't very keen on the characters. I found Tom to be a rather detached man who seemed insensitive and soulless, plus his wife Maggie came across to me as being rather boring. In addition, I really didn't warm to Tom and Maggie's circle of friends in the slightest. I felt them to be a jeering bunch of one-upmanship wannabes with little or no care for how their jibes at one another may be affecting anybody. Lisa the hypnotist irritated me enormously, simply because she wouldn't take no for an answer, and I can't stand forceful people.
As far as the acting in Stir Of Echoes is concerned, I wasn't too impressed with any of the cast's performance, until Tom's behaviour reached a stage whereby it appeared that he was losing his mind. From that point onwards, Kevin Bacon came into his own, throwing himself into a truly commendable portrayal of a confused and frustrated man who knows he isn't going mad, yet his efforts to get to the bottom of a mystery makes him appear quite loopy to everybody else. As the film progresses, the character of Tom and his part is hiked up to a level of tautness which is simultaneously uncomfortable and fascinating to watch.
Kathryn Erbe was acceptable as Maggie Witzky, Jake's concerned wife, but it isn't easy to judge her acting skills because the part she played wasn't all that demanding. Illeana Douglas as hypnotist Lisa Weil, came across exactly the same as she did in the 1991 version of Cape Fear, where she played the young woman who was savagely raped and brutalised by Max Cady after she chatted him up in a bar. I'd like to say that little Zachary David Cope was stunning as Jake Witzky, and he certainly wasn't bad, but his part....albeit essential and significant to the storyline of Stir Of Echoes, was comparatively small.
I can't say that I noticed the music in Stir Of Echoes, which either means it blended well into the atmosphere of the film, or was laid-back to the point of obscurity, or simply wasn't good enough to hook itself into my brain.
Overall, I really enjoyed Stir Of Echoes, and the film definitely does get better as it goes on, but there was a little something missing which prevents me from calling it great and doling out the full whack of five stars. It is very good, but does slip outside of the great bracket....I have a feeling that in time, although it is quite a powerful film in parts, Stir Of Echoes will be one that doesn't stand out in my memory.
I do believe that at least one sequel to Stir Of Echoes has been made, and I can't comment on it or them, simply because this first production is the only one I've seen. It is rare that sequels outstrip or even equal the first in a series, but maybe I'm wrong in this instance. I will only be able to judge if I ever see it or them, and for the time being, I can't quite see (bearing the ending of Stir Of Echoes in mind) how the storyline could be continued.
Stir Of Echoes probably would appeal to lovers of psychological thriller type films that contain a lacing of the supernatural. It is quite likely that some people may find this movie at least a little scary in parts, although it didn't hit my own 'creep' spot - probably because I've seen too many films in the same genre that genuinely are terrifying. In comparison and for me, Stir Of Echoes isn't particularly scary, but - once it gets into the story proper - is a good, watchable, intriguing film that will quite likely keep you glued to the screen for its duration.
At the time of writing, Stir Of Echoes can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.34 to £4.75
Used: from 1p to £1,000 (???!!! - Someone having a joke? The next DVD down in price from that ludicrous figure costs £5.99)
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
note: also appears on Flixster and The Student Room
Stir of Echoes is based on the novel, albeit rather loosely, of the same name by Richard Matheson. Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a builder in Chicago who lives with his wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and son Jake (Zachary David Cope). However, one night at a party, his sister in law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) hypnotises him and places a hypnotic suggesting, imploring to be more open to things. That night, he begins seeing very strange visions about dead children, and begins to naturally freak out, wondering what Lisa has done to him. It appears that Tom is among the few able to "recieve" spirit messages, and he must now contend with this, resulting in plenty of creepy moments, and a plot twist that, if you're told about it, is predictable, but still fairly effective.
The film really owes a lot to both its atmospheric direction and the performance from Kevin Bacon. Bacon never gets enough credit as an actor, and I'm just aching to see more lead performances from him - he proves here that he has the charisma and star power to pull off a lead role, yet ten years later, he's still now endowed with a great deal of work, and is evidently finding it hard to shake that "character actor" status. Also, the direction and cinematography are appropriately murky, and make the film one to watch in the dark if you're looking to be creeped out! It's by no means a perfect film, and the end is well telegraphed in sight, but it's effective, and a sight better than the recent spate of remakes of Japanese horror films.
A well-meaning thriller with decent performances, and it doesn't rely on many jump scares and cliches. However, its twist is obvious and overall it's just not that interesting to behold.
Well yesterday I was sitting at home and there was nothing on TV, so I went to look at the films. I love horror films, and so when I saw this film advertised and read the synopsis, I thought it sounded pretty good, and it was better than nothing!
CAST: The actors in the film are;
Kevin Bacon as Tom Witzky
Zachary David Cope as Jake Witzky
Kathryn Erbe as Martha Witzky
Illeana Dougless as Lisa Weil
Jennifer Morrison as Samantha Kozac
The above are the main characters in the film.
Tom Witzsky lives with his pregnant wife Martha and young son Jake. Tom is a sceptic, and so when his sister in law Lisa starts sprouting rubbish about hypnotism, he's the one who laughs it off. Until that is at a party one night, Tom wants to be hypnotised, to prove it's not real. While under hypnosis, Tom sees some strange images of violence, of blood covering his home, when he awakes he feels funny and when he's told he had been under he gets scared and he and Martha leave.
But that's not the end of Toms weird feelings, he keeps having dreams, and seeing a young girl in his home, he doesn't know what is happening, but its scaring him.
But it's not just Tom whose having these feelings, and seeing this young girl. Jake, his son, is always talking to someone who isn't there, a girl called Samantha.
One night when Tom and Martha are going out for the evening, they need to get a babysitter in, but when Lisa can't do it for them, Jake recommends a young girl who Samantha told him about...
The young girl comes to babysit, and straight away Tom has funny feelings about her, and feels he can't trust her after seeing a red aura around her. But he and Martha go out anyway leaving Jake with the teenager. During the night, the babysitter hears Jake on the intercom talking to someone, when she goes to investigate, he tells her that Samantha was in the house and that's who he was speaking to, and that he sees Samantha a lot. The girl swiftly swipes him up and runs off with him, Tom instinctively knows something is wrong and runs home to find him missing.
When they eventually find the girl and Jake at the train station, they discover that Samantha is the teenage girl who Tom has been seeing in their house as a ghost, the girl tells them that she is her sister who went missing 6 months ago and she hadn't been seen or heard from since. When the babysitter heard the boy speaking of her, she gets suspicious that her sister is in the house and that Tom kidnapped her. But Tom knows that's not the truth, but he knows something is wrong, and knows that something has happened in his home.
Upon asking his landlord, he tells them the house was empty before he moved into it a few months earlier, and that Samantha had never been anywhere near there. But Tom knows different.
This is when a trail of discovery ensues which is putting Tom and Martha in danger, someone doesn't want Samantha to be found, dead or alive, and are willing to kill Tom and his family to get what they want...
The film is actually pretty scary! I have never heard of it before, even though it's quite old (dated 1997), but it is a good film, with a good plot. I thought it was going to be a little boring when I first started watching it, and thought it might be quite predictable, but in fact it's not. I didn't see the ending coming until it happened, and I'm normally quite good at deciphering these things! It's definitely a film I would watch again, but it is scary, it has got a lot of parts which make you jump out of your seat!
Definitely recommended for anyone who likes crime thrillers!!! :-D
I don't know how many film reviews I have written, I dare not go and look. Several of these reviews have been about movies in the Fantasy and Horror sections, but few have made me feel genuinely 'creeped out.' One that certainly does, though, is Stir of Echoes. I first stumbled across it five or so years ago, having reorded it of Sky TV or something.
Thoroughly enjoyable, this movie, starring Kevin Bacon in the lead role is pretty spooky to say the least. You are hooked from the word go as the opening scenes introduce you to the main characters, including Bacon's on screen young son Jake. Jake is chatting away whilst in the bath, seemingly talking to the camera, as Bacon's character Tom Witzky is in the background strumming on his guitar.
Jake Witzky says, 'Can I ask you a question? Does it hurt to die?'
That is when the chills begin to race down your back...
Tom is married to the lovely Maggie Witzky, played by Kathryn Erbe and they appear to be of a working class background. Maggie is pregnant and Tom is a bit daunted by this fact. During a party, Maggie's sister Lisa hypnotises him and from then on, he begins to have hallucinations. He keeps having visions of a young lady being murdered and this lady keeps appearing in his house, but it would seem that only he can see her.
Tom hates the visions to begin with, but soon has to find out who this person is and what they want. She appears, giving him cryptic messages and looking delightfully scary. He finds out that his son 'sees' her too and...
I am not going to give anything else away about the story line. Suffice to say that it is 'formula,' as are most films of this genre, but that is not to say that is isn't good.
Bacon is brilliant in the role, playing a man haunted - he certainly looks the part, and to me this versatile actor just gets better. Erbe is the cute concerned wife, but also with a bit of 'meat' to her. The actress is flawless and she is quite pretty too. Jake is suitably good as the son.
The storyline is well put together and keeps you gripped until the last scenes. Few horror films get me feeling scared these days, but this certainly does. Reminiscent of The Sixth Sense, the tension and the shocks grow as the film progresses. The effects are pretty standard, but I recommend this to all who like good ghost stories and those who fancy something different.
Bits and Bobs...
Release date 1999
Directed by David Koepp
Run time 99 minutes
Kevin Bacon .... Tom Witzky
Kathryn Erbe .... Maggie Witzky
Illeana Douglas .... Lisa
Zachary David Cope .... Jake Witzky
Kevin Dunn .... Frank McCarthy
Conor O'Farrell .... Harry Damon
Liza Weil .... Debbie Kozac, the Babysitter
Lusia Strus .... Sheila McCarthy
Stephen Eugene Walker .... Bobby
Mary Kay Cook .... Vanessa
To conclude, I enjoyed watching this film: it has all the rudiments of what makes a good chiller. It is hard to pull off a ghost film without it becoming comical or trite. The writers, director and actors pull it off extremely well. There are elements of mirth here, but they are done in a subtle way, without the film becoming daft.
Also published on Ciao UK, in a slightly different format, by me as 'Borg.'
I don't remember ever seeing this movie advertised but it was quite neat in an off kind of way. Kevin Bacon stars as Tom,a man who was hypnotized at a party, and begins to have very weird experiences afterwards (like communications from the dead). His son, Jake, is sensitive and also begins to hear/see things.
A young girl disappeared some six months previously and her sister freaks out one time after babysitting the son, and mention being made of her sister. As Tom spirals deeper into a depressive almost psycho state, his wife attempts to find out what is going on. Her husband and son, it seems, have an "eye" in a different world. The missing girl has been murdered and is attempting to use Bacon's character to solve the crime, so that she can be laid to rest.
He cannot understand why he sees flashbacks of his home with polythene covering furniture, and the rooms bare. Later, the reasoning behind this becomes clear.
This movie seemed to get buried in a slew of others - "The Sixth Sense",and "The Blair Witch Project" come immediately to mind - that were all released about the same time, but whereas the others were well-advertised, this one seemed to raise barely a whisper.
Excellent acting from Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas and others. The plot got weak in parts and seemed to falter, but overall it was a enjoyable watch to pass the time. Gives you plenty to think about as you try to figure out the connection. There were some pretty good special effects and some squeamish moments but it was very lacklustre in the main.
I'm not usually a follower of the horror genre, but this was intriguing enough for me to watch without being scary enough fro me to give up on it.
Not something to pay to go see in the movies, but if you catch it on video or on pay-per-view, it's not bad.
I really enjoyed this film. Its about a man who is hypnotized and becomes a messenger into the spirit side. He finds himself being contacted by a dead girl in order to find her "real killer" the film has some very creepy moments and a few hide behind the cushion moments. I like all this film. I was never bored and thought the way it was made was great.
In the film the man's wife thinks he is going mad as he is obsessed i finding the girls dead body. The film does remind me of the six sense which is quite strange really as they were both released around the same time. I don't think this film had much credit which it does deserve. There are a few senses that made my blood go cold. quite scary at times also so not really suitable for young viewers but a good film.
This was a good suspenseful thriller. The movie is suspenseful and entertaining even if it is predictable at times. It is not really all that scary but definitely creepy. The visual effects were good but it is the little background noises that really set the tone. The cast was very good. The music was descent and appropriate.
Tom is the typical working man, with a pregnant wife and a son. Although after being hypnotized by his sister in law, his life becomes less ordinary. He starts seeing the ghost of a girl who disappeared from their neighborhood and was presumed dead. His son Jake also starts seeing the girl's ghost. Tom becomes angry that images of the girl will not go away. Tom starts hunting for the girl to put an end to all this insanity, only there is someone who does not want the girl's body to be found.
The movie is creepy and worth watching. Kevin Bacon did a good job portraying Tom. The rest of the cast are unknown actors and actresses. The bad side of the movie is that at times the plotline got confusing and some characters were kind of introduced out of nowhere with little or no background information. Even with its flaws the movie is still worth watching
Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is just an average Chicago Joe working hard as a telephone lineman to make ends meet for his family. Wife, Maggie (Kathryn Erbe), and clever young Jake (Zachary David Cope) have settled in nicely, but we the viewers see right from the start that Jake is special. Tom, well he fancies himself to be a rational, practical, and sensible man; a skeptic of life's mysteries, great or small. His sister-in-law, Lisa (Illeana Douglas), can irritate him by her very presence simply because she prefers to embrace the inexplicable.
Tom and Maggie are new to the neighborhood, but were quick to make friends in the tightly knit, and relentlessly friendly community. Thus, Tom, Maggie, and Lisa find themselves attending a party where Lisa ends up hypnotizing Tom, despite his brash confidence that all such things are incapable of affecting anyone. As the film's tagline says, however, "Some doors weren't meant to be opened", and he begins suffering from increasingly vivid and terrifying dreams, visions, and other phenomena.
At the center of all these events is the image of girl he never knew. The rumors have flown fast and furious about what became of Samantha Kozac who disappeared not too long ago. Although this single dark cloud seems to have hardly cast a shadow across their sunny community. Yet, it looms largest for this now highly sensitive soul who has stumbled across this vague silhouette of a stranger.
In fact, it threatens to consume his sanity! Can he find his feet in the flood of imagery he is receiving now that his unconscious has been unlocked? Who is Jake's new imaginary friend? Can Tom find out what really happened to this girl, or is he just slowly loosing his grip on reality?
~~~ My Thoughts (potentially minor spoilers) ~~~
This is one of my favorite supernatural thrillers! Tom and Maggie are such ordinary people they might be your very own neighbors. More willing to admit to Middle Class than middle aged, perhaps, but likable, normal individuals. Watching Tom become increasingly uncomfortable within his own skin tightens our own apprehension nicely. The imagery that invades his life is brutal, and all the more eerie for the lack of an immediately apparent source!
The writers, novelist Richard Matheson with help from David Koepp, did a superlative job delivering realistic dialogue and settings, especially considering how vivid the more surrealistic scenes are at times. The cast supports this with natural talent and keen timing. When Maggie walks into a destroyed kitchen, her calm, "Oh. Look what I'm not cleaning up." is priceless, but is only the perfect opening for the scene which follows.
My favorite scene in the entire film is beautiful for it's simple humanity. Tom is now convinced that a body has been hidden somewhere within or around his house. Maggie has come home to find him in the process of almost literally sifting through the soil of their back yard, which now looks as though Bob the Builder has been over to play. Utterly flabbergasted by his behavior, Maggie is questioning him, trying to make sense of it all.
"Why are you doing this?", she asks. Without missing a beat the all male Tom, who is hosing down his newly chosen area, answers the obvious, "Water softens up the dirt." She presses further, "What are you searching for?" Tom's own exasperation leaks through. "What, exactly, don't you understand? I'm supposed to dig.... The question is not what. I think we both know very well what, although we don't want to even admit it. The question, Maggie, which you can plainly see I am very busy trying to answer... the question, is where!" We all turn to see young Jake happily digging away in a corner of the yard, and Tom calmly answers the look on her face with, "Oh don't worry, he's OK. It's not over there."
Beautifully crafted, this supernatural thriller stands up to repeated viewings very well. Settings, dialogue, cast, and even soundtrack come together to deliver a tale of ordinary lives disrupted by extraordinary events. Tom's new found psychometric abilities remind us that this eerie extra-sensory ability relies on our very skin to connect us to past, and quite often disturbingly traumatic events... and there's no escaping the touch of the preternatural forces just waiting to caress us.
Kevin Bacon plays a family man living with his wife and child. After being taunted at for not being open minded at a family get together he agrees to be hypnotises. While under he get's the suggested that he should be more open.
Immediately after he starts to see unusual things. He sees a girl being tortured. He can also see things that are about to happen in the near future. This of course starts to unnerve him, as time progresses he becomes more manic, worrying his wife tremendously.
Stranger is when a baby sitter attempts to abduct their child after he claims to be talking to a girl called Samantha.
Their child also appears to be seeing things, but that seems to be nothing more than an imaginary friend.
What does it all mean?
Kevin Bacon can be relied upon to give a good performance, and he does not disappoint in this role. It's obviously a fairly low budget film.
The biggest problem with the film is that it borrows rather heavily on other very popular films. Most notable of these for me are, The Shining and Sixth Sense. Bacon's character seems to get crazier as more possessed over time, just like Jack Torrance in The Shining. The child can hear voices like the kid inthe Sixth Sense.
Despite being a very dark and quite intense film, there are quite a few humorous scenes, I'm not quite sure if they are intentional or not.
On the whole I enjoyed the film, it's not a masterpiece by anybody's reckoning but it's a good Saturday evening late night thriller, watch it alone just before you go to bed for maximum effect.
Main Cast List
Zachary David Cope - Jake Witzky
Kevin Bacon - Tom Witzky
Kathryn Erbe - Maggie Witzky
Illeana Douglas - Lisa Weil
Running Time : 99 Minutes
Certificate : 15
Thanks for reading.
'Stir of Echoes' sees a truly brilliant performance from Kevin Bacon as a manual labourer who is hypnotised to become more 'open minded' - literally that is! When an amateur hypnotist tries to convince Bacon that it can indeed be done, she inadvertantly opens a door in his mind which means he can now see things he shouldn't...i.e. the ghost of a girl who was possibly murdered in his house. The film is spine chilling as it moves on through Bacon's quest to solve the mystery of the girl's ghostly presense. From the outset, the plot is nothing unusual. In fact, it has been unfairly compared to The Sixth Sense so often that 'Stir of echoes' has lost any individual identity to make it a stand-out movie. I'd like to point out that the film, although it has loosely the same kind of plot, is vastly different in several ways. Check out the acting for one thing. Kervin Bacon is superb and certainly no Bruce Willis (who would want to be, for that matter?). Forget being enigmatic, he plays the guy straight as he should be, without any qualms about trying to become some sort of lame sex symbol. His character is realistic and engaging so much more than any you would find in another movie of the same nature. 'Stir of Echoes' is also far more adult in that it doesn't rely on continuous shock tactics to keep attention focused. Despite the old plot format, I thought this film was dealt with brilliantly by the actors and crew. I especially enjoyed the camera work which consistently gave a creepy effect (check out the scene where Bacon waits on the sofa for the girl to appear again, the big gap at the edge of the screen really makes you feel like she could appear any second, which is quite terrifying!). The soundtrack was cracking (to use a Scots expression!) and the DVD was really worth the money. I'd recommend this film to anyone who likes a good gold scare and a tingly neck.
The release of Stir of Echoes was bad timing because it came out just after The Sixth Sense. People have rated it as a poor version of the blockbuster, which I think is wrong. The film does address the issue of hearing/seeing those from beyond the grave, but it is also about a man who is haunted by his regrets in life. Kevin Bacon plays a man who is bored with his job, marriage and his life in general. He loves his son dearly but when his wife becomes pregnant again, he worries about how they are going to eat. Bacon's character is a man whose mind is opened up to the ghost that haunts his house, following a hypnotism at a party. But it is not as simple as that - he knows that he is trying to be told something and gets more and more obsessed with trying to find out what happened to the ghost and what she is trying to tell him. Eventually, he has what appears to be a breakdown, but it is the only thing that he can do to find out what is going on. Of course, his findings reveal devastating facts. The film was taken from the short novel "Stir of Echoes" by Richard Mathseon. The original book has a different storyline to the film, where an affair has caused the death of a young woman. The film changed this completly. Despite reading the book, I prefered the film version. The storyline is electric and will have you on the edge of your seat! I agree with the previous opinion on the DVD features. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is perfection. This eerie and atmospheric mix will easily make the hairs stand up in the nape of your neck. The dialogue is also rock-solid, and blends seamlessly with all the other elements. This soundtrack will inject your body and soul with frights and scares the likes of which you have never before experienced. There's an excellent audio commentary with director David Koepp, a short promotional featurette that I though was actually quite good, the original the
atrical trailer, four TV spots that convey in a much better way than the theatrical trailer what the viewing audience has in store, a behind-the-scenes segment that is literally just that, a music video that is unfortunately only in Dolby Surround, a nice line-up of cast & crew biographies and finally some production notes. The DVD also features one of the coolest and creepiest menu intros that I've ever seen put together. Altogether "Stir of Echoes" is a highly underated film that is a must-see.
Kevin Bacon has made some great films over the years but Stir of Echoes, a ghost story with a difference isn't really one of them. It was made in 1999, and along with Bacon features Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglass, Liza Weil and Zachary David Cope, whoever the hell they are. It is based on Richard Matheson's 1958 novel and is directed by David Koepp. Bacon plays the father of a family who is hypnotised by his sister in law at a drunken party and thereafter starts to see apparitions of something from the past. His son also has some of the same visions, and they both see and talk to a backwards girl who disappeared several months before. The family are staying in a rented house and are suitably phased by the strange developments. It's genuinely disturbing at times, particularly over the last twenty minutes or so and Bacon takes a good part as troubled lead. Unfortunately, Bacon is the only really notable thing about this entire movie. It definitely ain't no Shining or even Sixth Sense, and it's really only yer average horror flick, though it does have some decent moments.. There's little in the way of suspense or even shock, but it's certainly stylishly realised and presented, with Bacon apparently starting to lose it as the visions become more and more vivid and he realises that there's something not quite right about this friendly little neighbourhood. The fraught nature of his mood starts to eat away at their happy family life and put them on edge. Bacon's the best thing about the film but there are few major downsides and you get a solid, well turned out film, not brilliant, but workmanlike and satisfying enough. Unfortunately, it takes a bit more than that to really hit the mark and what you get here is not that awe inspiring. Sorry about this, Kev, but not every film can be a world beater and you've made enough other decent movies to last you I reckon. Really, th
ough, you hope never to see this sort of average affair. If a film isn't wonderful, you always hope it's enough of a turkey to at least laugh at. Workmanlike and solid are dullsville words and this is a pretty dull film, despite the presence of Old Bacon Sandwich. There are plenty of references to The Shining and Sixth Sense and a thousand (well at least six) other ghost/horror films and there?s not enough new or original here to interest the casual bystander. When you get something like this there just isn't really any way to dress things up, and I know it's entering ramble time and I hate to bore you treasures out there, so I'll just say Nitey Nite and start thinking about Lord of the Rings again.
While this is an entertaining and enjoyable film, fans of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Sixth Sense, will not fail to notice the massive similarities... Kevin Bacon stars as as husband and father who's life has not lived up to his hopes. Hes a nobody stuck in a rented house in Chicago. However when he agrees to be hypnotised, his mind is opened allowing him to be more receptive... The film combines The Sixth Sense's ghostly tasks that must be performed, with Close Counters human breakdown, causing Bacon to trash his house through his confused attempts to solve the riddle. While the cast and direction give this film a definate B-movie look, this masks a film of a much higher standard. It is an enjoyable film which is well acted, but it scores nothing at all for originality. If you liked The Sixth Sense you will most likely enjoy this, but fans of Close Encounters may be a little insulted at the blatent influence of this film. Mark: 5/10, good but nothing new.
If you saw the smash hit Bruce Willis ghost story The Sixth Sense, then you probably let this one sneak by you. The hype surrounding that movie virtually eclipsed this one which was released at around the same time and followed on the same kind of theme. Stir of Echoes features Kevin Bacon as an ordinary family man living with his wife and son in a typical Chicago suburb. He is a typical working class guy and life is pretty avergae. However, when his hippy sister-in-law comes over and hypnotises him for a party trick, his life is about to change. She leaves a suggestion that he should open his mind more to paranormal activities...the result being disturbing visions and flashbacks to events witnesses by another during her violent rape and murder. He sees her ghost in his house, but his fears for his sanity are quelled when his son begins seeing the same ghost. He has to know what happened, what the departed spirit is trying to tell him...and get obsessive about doing so. Stir Of Echoes is a great movie. Kevin Bacon puts in an awesome performance, very much understated whilst at the same time perfection itself. Heis however the one shining light in a very mediocre cast - fortunate then that the camera seems to linger on him and him alone for most of the movie. Stir Of Echoes weaves a web and draws us into its clutches, holding us there until it is good and ready to let us go. It may not be the fastest paced movie around but the art of the storytelling will have you enthralled I promise. There are some simply fantastic scenes here, such as the visions themselves and one with Bacon digging up his entire garden and then explaining with perfect rationailty why he is doing so. His wife's inability to undersatand why you would dig deep holes all over your lawn just exasperates him...priceless. This is a horror movie for sure, but more of a ghost story. There is no gore here, no flashy special effect ala Stephen Spielberg's Poltergeist but
rather these are underplayed to allow the story to come out. It is much more believeable as a result. The scripting is strong, although characterisation of all but Bacon's character is not, and overall what you have here is a solid piece of entertainment. If you like The Sixth Sense or What Lies Beneath then you will like this movie. In some respects I think it is better than these two movies, not least because you are not sitting there awaiting "The Twist" as with TSS, or seeing Pfeiffer's manky feet as in WLB...yuck. Overall then a 4/5, bordering on a 5 but let down by weak characterisations.
I’ve already written an op for this 1999 Kevin Bacon thriller, but for those of you who are unaware of the films premise I’ll give you a brief rundown of the basic plot – for a more detailed review of the film itself then why not take a look at my review ‘What’s’ the worst that could happen?’ Stir Of Echo’s’ features Kevin Bacon as a blue-collar, run of the mill kind of a guy who, whilst having a wife and son, doesn’t have much else going for him in his ‘ordinary’ life – something that seems to frustrate his character Tom a great deal. Then one evening an event that takes place that will affect the lives of not only Tom, but that of his wife Maggie and young son Jake forever. Before too long Tom is haunted by very lucid images of a harrowing event that took place at his rented family home prior to their arrival – it also has something to do with the disappearance of a young girl from the area. The movie then follows Tom’s quest to get to the bottom of this mystery. That’s the basic plot outline, more onto the DVD presentation itself. When I originally hired this movie on DVD it came as a feature-free, full-screen image that didn’t exactly overly impress me. Of course I rented the movie primarily for the film, but it would have been nice to have a few ‘behind the scenes’ features included to add to it all. Thankfully these problems have been addressed in this release from 20th Century Fox. This R2 DVD is presented in an anamorphically wide screen print – a huge improvement over the full-frame pan and scan image I originally saw it on. The film itself features a lot of dark colourings – I’m happy to report that the print is blemish free with no visual artefacts to speak of. Wow, aren’t I sad and geeky – put it this way, the picture looks brilliant! Audio is also used to great effect
in the feature presentation. Sound is primarily kept to the front of the room with rear speakers used more for spot effects used to build up the tension. They do this to great effect though – you’ll often find yourself looking over your shoulder now and again – I know I certainly did! The DVD has a couple of extra features – we get a music video which features in one scene of the movie, a commentary track from the director David Koepp and also a couple of trailers used to promote the film. Koepp is clearly a director who enjoys the opportunity given to him hear to discuss the film and the commentary is worth a listen to hear where some of his ideas came from. Finally there is a small section of footage used to show how the film was shot. It’s interesting to see the before/after editing techniques used if nothing else, although in all honesty you’ll probably just watch this the once. The extra features are nice to have, but its’ really the strength of the film itself that’ll sell this disc. Navigation around the extra features is done via some static menus that get the job done if nothing else – I’ve seen better but I’ve certainly seen worse, put it that way! A great movie and a lovely video transfer results in a DVD that could enhance any film fans collection
The only real problem with Stir of Echoes has nothing to do with the movie itself, but with unlucky coincidence. Adapted from a Richard Matheson novel, this film arrived around the same time as The Sixth Sense. Surface similarities made it suffer by cursory comparison and the competing film's phenomenal success. It's a pity, because this one features one of Kevin Bacon's best performances, in a psychological thriller that makes a lot more right moves than wrong ones. Bacon plays a blue-collar guy who laments his ordinary life, only to learn, when his sister-in-law (Ileanna Douglas) hypnotizes him, that he is a "receiver" capable of seeing spirits and split-second glimpses of past and future events. It's a torturous gift to have--especially since his friendly Chicago neighbourhood possesses a dark secret--and Bacon plays the role with an appropriate mixture of obsession and internalised torment. Similarity to The Sixth Sense applies only to the basic premise and the character of Bacon's young son. Otherwise, this is more of a hard-edged journey of self-discovery, marital crisis, and recovery, with Bacon's wife (played by the highly underrated Kathryn Erbe) involved in an underdeveloped sub-plot about a group of people who share Bacon's gift as paranormal "receivers". Furthering his career as a writer-director of intelligent thrillers, David Koepp makes a few mis-steps in pacing and thematic overkill, but overall Stir of Echoes is a sharp, sensitive thriller that unfolds to reveal a dramatically satisfying solution to its mystery. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com