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Stir of Echoes
1999 - R - 99 Mins.
Director: David Koepp
Producer: Gavin Polone, Judy Hofflund
Written By: David Koepp
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Zachary David Cope, Kevin Dunn
Review by: John Ulmer
   
At first glance, "Stir of Echoes" is yet another average scary movie - the type with the plot Hollywood has been shoveling out since "The Sixth Sense" was released in 1999. "Stir of Echoes," based on the novel of the same title (save a missing "A"), came out the same year as "The Sixth Sense," and no doubt the reason it did poorly at the box office is because of this fact. But in all truth, this film, though very predictable, has a lot of twists, and I guessed "The Sixth Sense's" ending long before this'un's. The ending, like many of these films, falls apart a bit and becomes quite average, but then the twists come into play and totally redeem the film.

Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a telephone lineman, living in Chicago with his wife (Kathryn Erbe) and son. The neighborhood he lives in isn't exactly a bad area - everyone knows everyone, everything is out in the open. Or so it seems. Amanda's sister puts Tom into a deep hypnosis one night at a party, just for some fun, and when he snaps out of it he has become a Receiver, one who is open to everything around him. He starts seeing things, flashbacks. One character describes the flashbacks as "a flashlight that switches on and off." And as the flashlight continues to flutter, Tom slowly loses his mind.

A girl's ghost haunts their home. Tom's son is more of a Receiver than Tom, able to converse with the being and see it constantly. Soon Tom realizes that the ghost is trying to tell them something, trying to get them to do something. But what?

Kevin Bacon gives the performance of his career here. I've never seen him channel a character so well - he's even got the gruff Chicago accent down pat. After seeing this film, I still firmly believe that Bacon would be perfect to play a werewolf, as well as Ted Danson. Just look at him - his face is just like a werewolf! Forget "Wolf" with Jack Nicholson - Bacon and Danson (who I really dislike as an actor) should get together and make "Wolfs!", a tale about two werewolfs trying to cut it in the real world. Okay, maybe not, but seriously, he should play a werewolf sometime.

The ending to "Stir of Echoes" didn't really blow me away, I had long guessed it (as always), but there were some small plot twists along the way that made the story much more fun to follow. Such as the feathers element. Trust me, you'll understand what I mean after you see the movie.

Regarding the feathers, it took me a moment for it all to register at the end. Unlike a lot of other cheap horror/thrillers out there, "Stir of Echoes" does do one thing that seperates it from the ordinary - it gives its audience a chance to be an active audience, not just a lazy, sit-back-and-watch-it-unfold audience. Scenes DO unfold, but there are many other elements of the film that you must pay attention to. "Stir of Echoes" qualifies for a second viewing.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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