STIR OF ECHOES
Bacon is a telephone lineman named Tom Witzky, who lives a pretty normal
life in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and their
son Jake (Zachary David Cope), until he dares Maggie's sister to hypnotize
him. His main reason for challenging Lisa (Illeana Douglas) is that he is
skeptical of the validity of her hobby, but when he goes under, he really
goes under. Next thing you know, he's seeing visions during every waking
hour. Primarily he sees a girl (Jenny Morrison), apparently dead, who seems
to want something from him. What's more distressing is that she seems to
be on a first-name basis with little Jake.
After a few panicking weeks Tom asks Lisa to un-hypnotize him, but it
seems to do no good. He becomes more obsessed than ever with "Samantha,"
who turns out to be a local girl who disappeared about six months ago. He
also becomes more distant toward Maggie, while he and Jake trade information
about what they're supposed to do next. Finally, Samantha treats Tom to
the whole awful story, and the result threatens to rock the entire close-knit
Stir Of Echoes is full of scary pictures and sudden, loud chords
of jump music, as is the norm with this type film, and director Koepp (Trigger
Effect) uses many trite conventions, like the old "zombie in the
mirror" trick. But Bacon's performance is what makes it more than just
another dead-person-walking-the-earth story. Bacon is truly a man possessed;
when he is digging furiously in his back yard, he reminded me of Richard
Dreyfus piling up the potatoes in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
The Chicago accent is something new for him, and he incorporates it naturally
into his characterization of cynic- turned-paranoid Tom.
Thrillers like Stir Of Echoes don't expect to win awards. They don't pretend to be high-brow entertainment. But what they should do is provide an adequately creepy story plausible enough to sustain the audience's belief. For the most part, with its nice visuals and Bacon's energetic tension, this film fulfills that task. If it doesn't keep you awake at night, Stir Of Echoes will at least make you go "whoa!" a few times. ****½
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