It’s too bad Stir of Echoes came out about the same time that other film about kids and dead people came out (yes, I’m talking about the wonderful The Sixth Sense). I think had this film come out at a time before The Sixth Sense, it would have been a film that would have been fantastic. But, since it came out at around the same time, the bar for the film to beat was raised, and as such, it doesn’t quite reach it.
Yes, I enjoyed Stir of Echoes, even with its small flaws. The story is based on a Richard Matheson novel by the same name. Writer/director David Koepp does a good job of adapting the script for the big screen, along with updating the time period in which the novel had taken place. The film takes the essence of the book, but does not follow it step by step. Stir of Echoes follows the life of Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) a telephone guy who starts to have strange visions and flashes of horrible things after his sister-in-law (Illeana Douglas) hypnotizes him. He also finds that his young son (Zachary David Cope) sees the same things. His wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) starts to wonder what is happening to Tom as he spirals into insanity.
Stir of Echoes is a good movie all the way up till Tom starts digging. There are some truly creepy moments in the movie along with some really scary scenes (let’s just say that one couch seen scared the crap out of me). But, when the ghost tells Tom to dig, well, silly him, he starts to dig. In the backyard he digs, under the house he digs. With shovels he starts, then he moves to pneumatic drills. There was way too much digging in this movie. Had Koepp trimmed the digging scenes a little, it would have been better, because after the backyard, I got the idea that Tom really wanted to dig.
As for performances, this is the best Bacon performance that I’ve seen in a long time. This is probably one of his best. Kudos to Bacon for a great performance. Erbe is good as Maggie and never falls into the wife-in-the-background role. The two of them have a good chemistry on screen. Little Cope is a gifted actor and I wish him the best. He is not as memorable in this kid-who-sees-ghosts film as Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense though.
Koepp has proven that he is a gifted writer and director (his The Trigger Effect was a good start for him). He just needs to learn a little more control. The Trigger Effect was a tight film, no loose scenes anywhere. Here Koepp seemed to have splurged a little. Though he does keep in check with his filming of Chicago. He captures enough of the city to give you a sense of its beauty, but never overshooting Chicago (how many times have we seen the overuse of the Ls in movies?). I look forward to other movies made by Koepp.
Overall, I’d recommend Stir of Echoes; it’s a movie with some truly creepy and scary moments. Word of warning, don’t watch this movie loud and late at night. If you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense though, catch that first then see Stir of Echoes.