In every mind, there is a door that should never be opened.
After undergoing hypnosis, a man begins to see things beyond our world and becomes obsessed with the mystery surrounding the ghost of a young woman he sees in his home.
Stir of Echoes is a supernatural, horror thriller loosely based on the Richard Matheson novel of the same name that had the misfortune of being shortly released after director M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Sixth Sense. As a result, the movie was released under M. Nights giant shadow. While the movie was a success, making close to double its production budget worldwide, and largely satisfied those who saw it, it failed to generate the kind of buzz that would give it an enduring legacy(besides a straight to home video sequel). I think that’s a real shame, having revisited the movie this evening.
My biggest complaint about the movie stems from when the movie was released. Some of the visual effects are dated and do not stand the test of time. However, there isn’t a lot of CGI at work here so it fails to hold the movie back. It’s noticeable but not enough to diminish one’s enjoyment of the film.
What makes this film work is the strength of its performances and directing. Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe dominate the screen time and while there is a paranormal mystery to be solved, at its heart, Stir of Echoes is about one family’s struggle against coming undone at the seams. They live in an unassuming neighborhood surrounded by decent folk, just trying to live their lives. This could be your family, this could be mine. The film tries to hammer this point home on several occasions because our quiet lives can often be upended in an instant.
Director David Koepp is less known for his directing and more well known for his screenwriting as a majority of his directorial efforts failed to inspire faith with the suits in Hollywood, who care more about the money angle more than anything else. I would have liked to have seen more from him, because his style enhanced the film. While the movie doesn’t shy away from the fact that something paranormal is going on in their home, the way things are shot really convey the struggle this family has coming to terms with that. We don’t just see that Kevin Bacon is disoriented from his acting, we see how he’s being disoriented. Just from the way things are shot, internal character struggles are conveyed to the audience and that is a hard thing to do. There is one scene in particular in the third act that is shot from POV that made me squirm in my chair and made my skin crawl, especially with some recent developments in the news.
If you’ve never seen Stir of Echoes and are in the mood for a horror thriller, give this movie a shot. It’s well worth revisiting after all this time, even if some of the effect shots don’t quite hold up.