Movie Name: Stir of Echoes
Studio: Artisan Films
Release Date(s): September 10, 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) finds his life unraveling after being hypnotized by his sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) at a party with his wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe). When Tom begins seeing a girl (Jennifer Morrison) in his house and his son Jake (Zachary David Cope) claims she’s a missing girl from the neighborhood, Tom searches for answers…only to be pulled deeper into the mystery. With the visions coming stronger and stronger, Tom must solve the crime to regain his sanity.
Written and directed by David Koepp, Stir of Echoes is based on the 1958 horror novel A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson. The film received slightly positive reviews and was a sleeper box office success.
Stir of Echoes got a kind of raw deal in my book. It was released September 1999…one month after The Sixth Sense which had a similar theme. When compared to The Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes pales in comparison. Rewatching the film, the movie is unbalanced and predictable, but it does have its merits (more as a thriller than a mystery or horror).
The story for the movie is a bit obvious when compared to something like The Sixth Sense. It isn’t as smart and you can see where it is going. That doesn’t ruin the film which is a nice thriller, but the mystery aspect really doesn’t feel like much of a mystery. A subplot involving his son’s abilities and a police officer feels like it goes nowhere.
The movie benefits from Kevin Bacon who gives his all in the movie. He could have easily mailed the movie in, but he feels committed to role of a man going out of his mind…and it helps the movie work. I also like Erbe as his wife struggling to understand what is going on. I generally like Illeana Douglas, but it doesn’t appear that she knows she’s in a drama in this movie.
Visually, the movie is a bit jarring. It attempts to do a lot with jump-cuts and loud sounds. It doesn’t really work and I think the movie would be better served by simply telling the story and using more suspense and subtle scares. The movie is a subtle story and it needs a subtle direction.
Stir of Echoes is a so-so thriller. It has a decent story, but the story unfolds poorly with the material. Kevin Bacon is good, but he can’t make the movie a winner through and through. There are worse things than Stir of Echoes but there are also much better. Stir of Echoes was followed by Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming in 2007 which was a made-for-TV movie.
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