US (dir. David Koepp)
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Liza Weil, Kevin Dunn, Conor O’Farrell, Jenny Morrison, Zachary David Cope, Lisa Lewis, Eddie Bo Smith Jr., Kevin Scott Greer
Synopsis: After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl’s ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around her.
Review: “Stir of Echoes” isn’t a particularly great film, but it has a good story, a sort of unexpected twist, and well… a sweaty, shirtless Kevin Bacon digging wet dirt and brandishing a water hose doesn’t hurt the film either.
However, because it was released about 4 weeks after probably the biggest ghost movie of the 20th century, “The Sixth Sense”, “Stir of Echoes” was overlooked and outright ignored since the “kids talking to dead people” and ghostly appearances horror category was already filled for late summer 1999. As a thriller/drama film, I think “Stir of Echoes” works. However, as a horror film, it’s nothing really to write home about. I had originally seen this movie when it came out on VHS, but was eager to check it out again to see if I would find it more enjoyable after both it, and I, had aged about 10 years. Unfortunately, the movie turned out worse than I remember (or worse than I chose to remember) though the well written story (thanks to the screenplay being based on a Richard Matheson short story) still remains solid.
Sometimes I like to think that the alternate title to this film should have been: “How the Ghost Girl Got Her Jacket Back”, because that essentially sums up the film’s finale. “Stir of Echoes” is one of those movies were the living help the dead, again, a lot like “The Sixth Sense”. In this case, Kevin Bacon, who plays a rude, borderline redneck family man is hypnotized and begins to experience the same sensations as that of a supposedly missing, mentally challenged young woman. The experiences even extend as far as Kevin Bacon experiencing the, uhhh… attempted rape of that particular woman. Yeah, yikes.
Kevin Bacon’s gruff, average Joe, character goes through a whole series of visions and out of body experiences as he comes closer and closer to understanding what happened to the young woman he keeps seeing. He eventually uncovers the reasons as to why the ghost of the young woman is bothering him, and to a lesser extent, his son (the young woman was accidentally killed by some neighborhood teenagers and then walled up in his basement before the house was finished) and then of course the ghost gets what she was really after. Justice? No. Revenge? Think again. Proper burial? Not quite. Her fucking winter jacket? Yup!
I’ll have to admit, Bacon’s every-man, average Joe performance was pretty solid. He totally sold me. Actually Bacon, the actress playing his wife and the young actor playing his young son all delivered fairly believable performances, the secondary characters who make up the members of their neighbourhood were able to execute extremely believable, and strong performances as well. Unfortunately, this movie fails to deliver the sort of climax its predecessor, “The Sixth Sense”, was able to. In the end, this just turns out to be a movie with a ghost who tells you the story of how they died. In this case the ghost pretty much wants to wear their favorite orange jacket again, though why she couldn’t before totally confounds me. I guess it was because she was stuck in a wall? Boy will she get a surprise when she wakes up in a coffin.
This isn’t a particularly great film, but it certainly has a solid first half and a half-naked Kevin Bacon… so, yay for halfsies I guess?