Paint it Black : STIR OF ECHOES

1999's,  Stir of Echoes, is one of those overlooked horror films that never seemed to get the respect it deserved.

Based on Richard Matheson's novel (A Stir of Echoes) , the film tells a blue-collar horror/murder/mystery tale about a lower middle class husband and father who suddenly finds himself capable of seeing dead people.  As played by Kevin Bacon, Tom Witzky is a guy who realizes that his chances at bettering himself are swiftly passing him by as his wife is now pregnant with the couple's second child, and he still sees no promise for a promotion  in his job as a telephone wire-lineman.   Despite this, Tom and his wife, Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) seem like a happy, if somewhat slightly put upon, married couple.  That their little son Jake (Zachary David Cope) has an imaginary friend he talks to often does not seem too much of a cause for concern.

Then one night, at a house party, Tom agrees to let Maggie's New Age / Hippie  sister, Lisa (played by the always delightful and quirky Illeana Douglas) put him under hypnosis.  Shortly thereafter, the fun begins. 

Later that same night, Tom starts seeing visions, hearing voices, and developing a seemingly unquenchable thirst.  He hallucinates his mouth bleeding and pulling his front tooth out, he finds a young girl sitting on the sofa next to him...and it just gets more insane from that point on.

Obviously overshadowed by the similarly themed, The Sixth Sense (which opened the same year), Stir of Echoes forgoes the subtlety of M. Night Shyamalan's block buster, and makes no bones about what might or might not be happening.  This is clearly the story of a man being haunted by psychic vibrations and earth bound phantoms.  As the movie progresses, we find Tom's sanity on the breaking point as he becomes obsessed with the remains of a missing girl who may, or may not, be the spectral apparition that he and his son are both seeing.  Furthermore, there is the element of an unsolved missing persons case, and the chance that several of Tom's friends and neighbors might be involved.

Set in a working-class section of Chicago, Stir of Echoes incorporates the mentality of a tight-nit neighborhood's secrets and lies and shows how they conspire to create a sickening reality for all involved...well, you'll understand what I mean, after you watch the movie. 

As for scares, this movie's got 'em.  From jump cuts, to harsh musical cues, to creepy ghost girls wrapped in plastic, there are several heart stopping moments. 

All in all, Stir of Echoes is a must see.  If you already have watched it, then you owe yourself a chance to revisit, and if you've never seen it, well, now's your chance. Trust me, this one delivers the goods. 


Anonymous said...

Haha! As soon as I saw the topic of the post, I mused, "But will he post a pic of Bacon digging in the yard..."

Bravo, sir.

Pax Romano said...

Gore Gore,

Stay tuned, Kevin's character is going to get the full Horror Movie DILF treatment later on this week!

forestofthedead said...

Excellent review. Really love Stir of Echoes.

Anonymous said...

Roll on later-this-week!! Hurrah!

Dr Blood said...

Nice review. I love "Stir of Echoes" and Kevin Bacon. Thanks for posting a pic of Illeana Douglas because she does it for me too. ;)

deadlydolls said...

I think there's a lot of great things going on in Stir of Echos, but I just hated the Our Guys/Law & Order ending. Granted it's been a good 10 years since I watched it, so maybe I should give it a second chance.

Spooky Sean said...

This is one of my favorite films. I've watched it so many times, I've lost count. I'm constantly going "what's the praaablem!" and shaking my head back and forth and going "no I won't stap, I won't stap!"

Will Errickson said...

Been awhile since I've seen this, but I remember it being pretty solid. I've got a nice vintage copy of the Matheson novel on my shelf but haven't gotten around to reading it.

Pax Romano said...

SS, every time I watch it, I do the same faux Chicago accent!

Will, I have the novel as well. Picked it up at a flea market for a buck (hard back). Now I need to go find it!