Stir Of Echoes – Retro Showcase (1999)

Every so often I come across a movie that came out more than a decade ago, a movie that I missed upon it’s initial release. Rarely do I wish that I caught the movie opening night but this is one exception — Stir Of Echoes. A movie so chilling and well crafted that it angers me that I didn’t see this 10 years ago.

Kevin Bacon stars as Tom Witzky; a down and out utility lineman living day to day. He has a son and a wife who is now expecting. Tom obvious has no true purpose in life and feels as if he won’t leave a mark or memory when he’s gone, even the idea of another child doesn’t enthuse him. One night, at a party; Tom (a skeptic) is hypnotized by his sister in law (played by Illeana Douglas). Suddenly a whole new chapter is Tom’s life is started.

Tom’s mind has been open to receive messages from the afterlife, he begins seeing and hearing beacons. Obviously leading him to something — but he doesn’t know what truly lies ahead of him. He becomes obsessed with the clues as this becomes his sole purpose in life — to find what the spirits want. He doesn’t sleep or eat and completely neglects his family. The idea of gaining a purpose in life and the thought of accomplishing something monumental completely takes him over.

The great thing about this movie is watching the progression of Kevin Bacon’s character as he unravels the puzzle laid out in front of him. *SPOILERS* It turns out his son has the ability to speak to the ghost and aids Tom in the search for the reason, this actually plays out as a plot device. Tom and his son bond over this supernatural search, more so than any point in the movie. So we watch as their relationship grows, it’s very intriguing.

David Koepp directed this, he is best know for his writing techniques on such blockbusters as; Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible and Spider-Man. Here he really shines as he puts his directing skills to the test. The scariest parts of the film is the subtlety and not jump scares. At no point during the movie does someone creep up behind another and scare the s*** out of them. Or a bird flies out of a window accompanied by a loud percussion. In SOE, we get pitch changes in character dialogue and incredible unique POV shots.

I will elaborate. Essentially we watch from Tom’s perspective as he copes with his new responsibility. In one scene his son is talking and at the very end of the sentence the pitch drops to a dark and raspy voice, this caught me off guard and completely freaked me out. In the hypnotize scene, the entire sequence is inside his mind as we watch how he slips into this different mind set. Almost as if the film makers were trying to hypnotize the audience and it worked on me. I found myself drifting away, it was trippy.

I cannot recommend this movie enough, seeing as all of the horror films to come out withing the last 5 years have been awful. Today the horror genre seems to be flooded with cliches or too over the top to the point of absurdity. SOE stands out as a superb psychological thriller filled with originality and true terror.