on May 18, 2003
Okay I have seen the comparisons to "Sixth Sense" so let's get this over with.....Yes they did come out at the same time but I think "Stir of Echoes" has more edge and also gives you more of a phsyical jump than Sixth Sense's sort of mental jump(if you will).
Anyways with that out of the way...Nothin' really out as far as new releases go for this May 2003, so I decided to check this out. First I watched "The Ring"(2002) and then I watched this.....and let's just say that tonight I'll get out the night light that I have put away from many years ago.
This is a good example of the great scary movies that came out during the 1996-2000 time frame. Now everything is all this mental crap that isn't spoonfed. Well sometimes I like the movie were you have to think a lot but dang it sometimes I wanna be spoonfed and giving the phsyical factor that this movie produces.
So in short...If not a movie to buy than it's definitely worth a rental(you might have to ask store where the movie is...it is 1999 anyways). This movie gives off great jump and suspensful moments. The plot is great and as for "Sixth Sense" this movie tops it without question. Enjoy! Peace!
Stir of Echoes has something that most movies do not have-a story adapted from a Richard Matheson novel. I haven't had a chance to read this particular novel as of yet and thus cannot say how closely the movie follows it, but the fact that we have this movie as a result of director David Koepp's chance reading of the highly talented Matheson's 1958 novel is a powerful argument for keeping the works of the truly great writers in print and readily available to all. Certainly, there is a Sixth Sense quality to this movie, quite by accident and somewhat to its misfortune in terms of the timing of its theatrical release, but this movie stands on its own quite nicely. Kevin Bacon gives a remarkable performance as Tom Witzky, a man haunted by visions he can neither understand nor escape from. These disturbing visions first come to him after he is hypnotized by his sister-in-law at a party, and almost immediately they begin to consume him. His wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) grows frantic with worry, while his son Jake (Zachary David Cope making his feature film debut) eases his transition into this strange new mental world. Jake has been talking to ghosts throughout his childhood, especially Samantha, the teenager Tom unexpectedly encounters on his couch that first night and seeks to "find" again. Samantha wants him to do something, and Tom's struggle involves finding out just what that something is. There are plenty of creepy scenes to be enjoyed, and the visual presentation of Samantha is especially well done; the unnatural way she moves was captured by having Jennifer Morrison walk especially slowly and filming her using a different frame rate than normal. It's remarkably effective. The visions are also impressive-we see what Tom sees and can understand the frustration he feels at not being able to interpret them. All he gets are scattered images, and it is up to him to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. The mystery of Samantha's disappearance is not obvious, thank goodness, and this fact allows for a truly spectacular end to this movie.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking film, one more than capable of pleasing stalwart horror lovers like myself as well as more mainstream viewers who wander into the realm of the cinematic supernatural only on special occasions or by accident. The acting is superb on all counts, from Bacon on down the line to Cope, and the rather subdued special effects really work marvelously and help reinforce the believability of the otherwise fantastic story. There is a definite air of realism and plausibility here, and that helps maintain a crucial connection between the audience and the film.
The special features offered on the DVD are good things to have, but they don't really increase your enjoyment of the movie itself. The featurette is actually rather short in length and mainly features short interviews with the cast and crew. The behind the scenes featurette seems rather strange; you just get very short looks at cast and crew preparing or doing their work, and there is no effort to explain anything that you are seeing. Of course, the DVD also features a commentary by director David Koepp for those who really want to dig deeply into the genesis of this action-packed thriller. I was disappointed to find no deleted scenes included on the DVD, though; normally, I'm not that high on deleted scenes because most of the time it is quite easy to see why they were deleted. In the production notes for Stir of Echoes, though, Koepp refers to a scene featuring Samantha which he found too creepy to include in the final cut; I would really have liked to have a look at that scene.
Stir of Echoes is a great example of realistic suspense done right. Foregoing blood and heavy-handed horror tactics, director David Koepp has succeeded in giving us an electrifying, deliciously creepy, intellectually stimulating supernatural thriller every bit as exciting and memorable as The Sixth Sense.
on September 9, 2002
I'm kinda' in the middle of somethin'
That was an unforgettable scene from this film. Kevin Bacon is in the middle of digging up his backyard when his wife shows up and asks him to come with her to her Grandmother's funeral.
Kevin is great in this film. He plays a regular guy leading a regular life in a small northern rowhouse neighborhood. He and his family have been there for several months and are renting a house from one of the neighbors. It's a pretty tight knit community. Everyone knows everyone.
At a neighborhood party, Kevin consents to be hypnotized. Once that happens, his life will never be the same. He is now a "receiver". Constantly bombarded by ideas that are not his own. He begins to understand his son and his problems.
Evidently, not too long in the past, his house was the scene of a murder. The neighbors were aware of it and chose to hide it rather than notify the authorities. Kevin's son has been communicating with the vistim for some time. His parents assumed he was just using his "imagination". Now Kevin is experiencing the same communications.
This is a scary film, it's also a funny film... Lot's a good, intense story here....
on May 19, 2002
Kevin Bacon is Tom Witzky, a normal man who's just moved into a new Chicago neighborhood with his wife (Kathryn Erbe) and young son. Going to a party one night, he's hypnotized by his sister-in-law just for kicks, but once he's out of his trance, he receives dark visions and strange messages that lead to a mystery that occurred in the very neighborhood he now lives in. Underrated financial failure(somehow, the awful Stigmata managed to gross much more money on the same opening weekend) from writer/director David Koepp is an engrossing thriller and one of the most effective horror films of the 90's, it's intelligent, superbly acted (Kevin Bacon delivers possibly the best performance of his career), and most importanty, suspenseful and frightening. Stumbles a little in the finale once the revelation is revealed, but for almost its entirety, this is a highly, highly entertaining and compelling film that casts an effective and enjoyably dark web. See it, see it NOW.
**** 1/2 out of *****
on April 4, 2002
This nice little chiller never received the attention it deserved because (as many reviewers have noted) it came out nearly at the same time as THE SIXTH SENSE, which has a similar plot and was a huge hit. It's too bad, because this juicy little thriller has some terrifically scary and surreal moments, particularly whenever the ghost that keeps contacting Kevin Bacon and his son shows up. Bacom plays Tom, a blue-collar Chicago father who starts receiving psychic messages after a hypnotic party trick conducted by his siter-in-law (Ileana Douglas, in a strangely mistimed comic performance) goes awry.
Though the chills are genuine, the movie is almost set offkilter by a rare bad performance from Bacon, whose overripe Chicago accent is utterly unconvincing. He seems to be giving his audience a kind of postmodern salute to famous male film performances of the Seventies, and at times directly apes Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING, Richard Dreyfuss in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and Robert De Niro in almost everything. As his determined, likeable wife, Jeanne Tripplehorn fares much better, delivering a very quietly intelligent performance (replete with a much more convincing accent).
on March 20, 2002
Stir of Echoes had an unremarkable run at the boxoffice. While it only faintly resembles The Sixth Sense, it had enough plot similarities for it to be compared unfavorably to that phenomenal smash hit. The truth is that, for a movie of its type, its business was about average. How we media journalists love to make comparisons! What was really happening in Media Land was this: The small company that released Stir of Echoes was Artisan, which also distributed the sleeper hit The Blair Witch Project. So, like in the case of the Rams' winning the Super Bowl, many of us were eager to say that Artisan couldn't do it twice. As a group, we tend to root for the little guy only until he actually wins. A more convincing case might be made that movies headlining poor Kevin Bacon rarely make money. At least there we have several years worth of data.
When the movie opens, we see Tony Witsky [Bacon] sitting on his bed strumming a guitar. In the adjoining bathroom, his six-year old son is taking a bath. From Tony's point of view, the boy seems to be babbling on like many kids do. From ours, he looks as though he is talking to someone only he can see. Our viewpoint is the correct one, for this is a ghost story. At first, no one pays any attention to the child, and when they do, they don't believe him. Later on, Tony has good reason to know his son is telling the truth, and the apparition becomes their secret world. Of course, how a child would handle such a situation is quite different from how an adult would, and one of the delights of the movie is in seeing the huge difference in their reactions.
Like most movie ghosts, the dead girl in this one is hanging around until justice is done. Her problem is something Tony and his wife Maggie [Katherine Erbe] have no way to deal with. Although Tony dreams of being a rock star, the couple is basically an ordinary one living in a working-class Chicago neighborhood. They have a good marriage. They are well-liked. The extent of their adventures up to know seems limited to beer-drinking parties and to dealing with Maggie's off-the-wall sister, Lisa [Ileana Douglas], who is studying to be a hypno-therapist.
As a tale, Stir of Echoes is genuinely spooky. Tony's uncovering of the ghost's terrible secret merely leads to yet more horror. There are few special effects. Director David Keopp doesn't need them. He makes great use of lightening and sound. There are a few problems with the movie, most of them to do with characterization. Tony tends to be indecisive, and I suspect that such a person would usually choose flight over fight. Maggie gets so loud and agitated when she's angry that it makes the idea of a good marriage a little suspect. When it becomes obvious that Tony has gone over the edge, not only does no one try to intercede, no one even pays much attention. Still, these defects in the plot's structure don't do irreparable harm to the thrill and chill aspects. They do cause Stir of Echoes to be a good movie, rather than a great one.
on March 19, 2002
I was looking forward to seeing this DVD after remembering some exciting-looking trailers, but the movie disappointed me. Even taking into account the obvious similarities to "The Sixth Sense" (which I thought was much more well done) and an influence of both movies, "The Shining", I never got the impression that I was watching anything original. "Stir of Echoes" is a rote supernatural-themed thriller that probably worked better in the original book than it does on the big screen.
Kevin Bacon's character does start to get developed a little in the beginning of the movie as we find out that he wants to be more than an "ordinary guy", but this never goes anywhere. He starts having bizarre visions after being hypnotized by his wife's sister (played by Illeana Douglas, whose role as a dippy academic was funny in "Ghost World" but is just annoying here). The most effective bits of the movie for me were the brief snippets of visions shown through Kevin Bacon's point of view ... whether seeing them in real-time or in DVD freeze-frame, they were both scary and intriguing.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn't take the premise anywhere new or exciting. None of the characters are interesting, there are shots and scenes that seem portentous but lead nowhere ... the movie seemed rather underwritten, as we get only brief sketches of the different characters and stretches of superfluous visual filler. The movie is basically a murder thriller but the suspense is undermined by the predictability. I'm afraid that for me the only memorable part (in a positive way) of "Stir of Echoes" was the pleasant Beth Orton song at the end of the movie.
on January 12, 2002
Talk about a nail-biting thriller, "Stir of Echoes" is a supernatural journey into the unknown. Brilliantly written and directed, this is a movie that shouldn't be missed by anyone.
Kevin Bacon stars as Tom. Tom is an ordinary man who loves his family and is devoted to his job. The only thing he wishes is that he wasn't so ordinary. Everything drastically changes at a neighborhood party when Tom is hypnotized for a brief period of time. After that unforgettable night, Tom starts seeing things; haunting and violent images that he can't stop or ignore. He hears things that he cannot block from his eardrums. Later on, he discovers that what he is witnessing are possible puzzle pieces to an unspeakable crime that took place a while back. As Tom starts losing it and is determined to solve the unbearable puzzle that haunts him day and night, the more danger he puts him and his family into.
In a way, this was the movie that "Sixth Sense" was trying to be. I felt that this movie was a lot more shocking and haunting. The movie has great acting and a fabulous screenplay. This is a movie you may not want to watch late at night, unless you don't mind a nightmare or two. It's too bad that this movie came out the same time that "The Sixth Sense" did, otherwise it would've gotten more recognition; well deserved recognition at that. There are a few extras on the DVD for those of you who enjoy what special features DVDs have to offer, including a behind the scenes feature, a music video, and a couple of trailers.
This is a great thriller that should've gotten a hell of a lot more recognition. Rent or buy this one as soon as you can. If you love a dark thriller, then you will not be disappointed. Be warned; there are some shocking and disturbing images that may be hard to stomach for some; not for those who get disturbed easily. "Stir of Echoes" is filled with thrills and surprises that you won't want to miss. It also has an excellent plot with a surprising climax. An easy 5 out of 5 stars, without question.
on May 13, 2001
"Stir of Echoes"
i have to say that, while it was not the best horror/suspense/psychological drama i have seen, it left me with a very definite sense of closure. The lack of supernatural events other than the uncannily haunting of the intuition struck me as particularly realistic. If you are skeptical of the power of hypnotism, the ability called the "sixth sense", or any of the more nebulous psychological phenomena, you may not embrace the concept of this film as
whole-heartedly as i did.
The idea that some people "shine" - i.e., have the ability to pick up on sensations and ambient forces invisible to most of us is one that i completely subscribe to, having an albeit very small "shine" myself. On that note, i cannot deny certain parallels to the movies "The Shining", but they are thematic rather than formulaic or contrived.
i did not anticipate the ending, which in my opinion was tremendously satisfying. OK - this all makes sense now! i seldom leave a movie, no matter WHAT the genre, feeling this way, and it was refreshing.
The "Stir of Echoes" was very low on the gore and shock, but quite sufficient in suspense and creepiness to keep this viewer a bit on edge. to elaborate on the plot would be unconscionable. Better to watch the movie, as i did, with no preconceptions.
MWvixen Mistress of HELL
on May 7, 2001
An ordinary man, a skeptic, who works for the phone company, nothing in Kevin Bacon's life has prepared him for the strange journey which begins after he is hypnotized at a local party. He comes out of his trance, not remembering what happened while he was under. Instead he remembers strange visions and memories of events and people he saw while hypnotized.
These memories haunt him. At home, even after the party, he continues to hear, and see, strange things. Flashes and dreams of the future, an instinct that something is very wrong in his neighborhood, visions of ghosts; a radical change in his life has begun.
"Stir of Echos" is a surprising good film with strong performances from almost all of the actors. The first thing I liked about it is, until mid-movie or more, it is unclear which direction this film will go. At the same time, the people and events in the movie, until this time, are still interesting and fun to watch. The mystery, what is happening, is the hook which helps pull us along.
I won't spoil the surprises. I will say that the ending, with one exception, was a strong finish. It is too bad that "Stir of Echos" didn't do better in the movies as it was much better then most films out when it was released. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes more thoughtful horror films. Indeed, for me, this was more of a drama with a horror background.
As for the DVD features, there isn't much here to be gained. A few trailers don't make up for the extra price of a DVD. If you are a purist, or can get it at a discount (which I did) buy the DVD. Otherwise, the video is probably just as good. Happy Shopping.