Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Stir of Echoes’ (1999)

6 min read
In my review of White Noise (2005), I asked the question, "why watch that when you can watch this instead?" They were very similar in style and even plot, but White Noise was pretty lame.

Tommy has The Shining…

In my review of White Noise (2005), I asked the question, “why watch that when you can watch this instead?” They were very similar in style and even plot, but White Noise was pretty lame. I mean, it was okay, but not really worth the watch. This one is so much better AND it has Kevin Bacon in it.

Pretty much everything about Stir of Echoes is better. The acting is even better. I like Keaton and all, he is Batman, but even he phoned it in a little in White Noise.

They also didn’t waste a lot of time on shit CGI. I think there might have been some in there, but it was mostly practical FX, good old fashioned lighting and filters.

Fuck, and this movie had incredible atmosphere. Everything was already pretty dark and run down. Not decaying, more like ‘inner-city old.’ You could smell those sets. Smoggy air, wet cement, musty vents, a hint of sewage, and the ever-present feeling that everything has a layer of dirt and soot on it.

The plot was solid. It doesn’t get too complicated, doesn’t try to hang on dumb twists, and it doesn’t lead you about the nose. Like The Autopsy of Jain Doe (2016), it gives you the information, bit by bit, and lets you figure it out. It’s also pretty neat how they tie everything together at the end. Mostly because all the clues are so fucking weird. They don’t even try to hide all the clues to their little mystery. They rub them in your face and expect you to figure it out. The basic premise is that Kevin Bacon’s character Tom has a part of his mind opened which gives him slight clairvoyance. Basically, he sees dead people… sorta.

You know, this isn’t really horror, more like a mystery thriller that involves the supernatural, but it has enough of a horror lean to include it in my love of horror in general.

Here’s the thing, this might not be the right movie for Hardcore Horror Heads, but general adult audiences will likely love it, and even Horror Heads should give it a try.

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SPOILERS!!!

I think it’s important to note this setting feels very much like it comes from the same universe as Stephen King’s The Shining (1980) or Doctor Sleep (2019). Richard Matheson’s book Stir of Echoes (1958) predates Stephen King’s book The Shining (1977) by almost twenty years but King might have drawn some inspiration from Matheson, or Director David Koepp might have drawn some inspiration from King or Kubrick. The character of Jake reminds me very much of a young Danny. Tom even reminds me a little of older Danny from Doctor Sleep. The way the gift works is also very much like The Shining and they even throw in a random black character as a quasi mentor the same way.

The whole premise is a murder mystery where Tom uses his new found gift to figure out how a dead girl died. The messages are pretty random and vague, with the ghost using mostly imagery to communicate rather than just fucking tell Tom, “Hey, I’m walled up in the basement of your townhouse.”

I’m tempted to call ‘bad ghost,’ but they make a VERY strong point about Tom’s gift being extremely week. The thing is, his son Jake has the same gift and it’s WAY more powerful. Jake could figure this shit out in a hot minute, but it scares his mom which constantly causes him to clam up. Every time he says something about what’s happening, an adult (usually either his mother or father) freaks the fuck out, giving him zero incentive to keep helping. It’s a little annoying, but it completely makes sense as the other character’s reactions are totally natural.

I won’t ruin the ending, as I do want you to watch this. It’s pretty good, and shouldn’t disappoint.

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