A bit of a throwback to the nineties this, but in all honesty ‘Stir of Echoes’, a movie which pitches Hollywood superstar Kevin Bacon against a troubled spirit, appears to be a bit of an overlooked solid chiller. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t exactly a hidden gem, but it does provide a 100 minutes or so of genuine mainstream horror scares.
The plot sees Tom Witzky, a rather slobbish close minded individual have his life turned on its head when a drunken hypnosis session goes wrong and opens up a dormant part of his psyche which sees him susceptible to messages from beyond the grave. That night, amidst a sequence of vivid dreams and equally bizarre hallucinations he begins to believe that his house might be haunted by a particularly restless spirit. The trick to him having a good night’s sleep is to find out what it wants and what he can do to help it.
Sound familiar, well true, upon reflection I guess it’s not the most original of plot lines – especially when you consider it was competing with the spooky powerhouse ‘The Sixth Sense’ at its time of release – but it is a tried and tested platform for delivering some effective scares. It has to be said that the plot is not the films strongest point, however the characters do have a reasonable amount of depth to them and the acting is strong throughout.
The real focal point of this movie, and one through much of my viewing recommendation comes from, is the scares. I’m not sure why, but this movie gets under your skin. For starters the movie has a distinctly dark tone.
Despite being a more mainstream release the hallucinations are pretty fucked up and the characters themselves aren’t really the usual happy family types more frequently displayed in Hollywood movies. This all adds to the atmosphere and the build-up to the rather jumpy scares which play throughout. Initially, portrayed most through the characters inability to rationalise the visions he is experiencing, the scares come from a variety of angles, some jumpy ghost faces and some pretty odd hallucinations keep you on your toes and are genuinely surprising. Creepy and suspenseful are two words which sum up the first hour of the movie.
Sadly though, whilst the movie is a strong entry into the competitive genre it is not without some flaws. First off, and I know I have already mentioned it, the story really begins to hamper the movies progression, especially as, in the last half hour, persistent story telling puts a premature end to the tension. I had already worked out what was happening within the main storyline and was waiting for a twist which was never delivered. All of this at the expense of scares tension and, well, pretty much everything else. Perhaps at the time the stories conclusion felt fresher, but viewing in 2011 it seemed a little more telegraphed than the film seemed to realise.
Overall though, if you haven’t seen it yet ‘Stir of Echoes’ definitely worth a rent or view. 2011 was a good year for a many of the different horror genres and so I realise you won’t really be stuck for things to watch however, feeling nostalgic?, give it a go.