"Kevin Bacon alone makes it worth seeing, plus it's pretty damn spooky!"
While picking through the debris of the New Horror Wave, you may chance upon a few smaller movies that a worth a look, like this one. While it's not likely to make anyone's Top Ten list, it offers some effective chills backed up by a strong story (based on Richard Matheson's novel) and some excellent performances.Just because David Koepp has proved himself to be a solid screenwriter (The Paper, Death Becomes Her, Carlito's Way), that's no reason to expect he can direct a movie. Surprisingly, he brings a strong directorial style here, offering a dark mood and some creepy visuals to his solid (if a bit familiar) script. Although it was unfairly compared to The Sixth Sense upon its theatrical release, the result is an entertaining and tight little ghost story.
Tom Witzky (Bacon) has family pressures. He's constantly having to work extra hours to make ends meet and his dreams of bigger and better things seem pretty unlikely. Although he's a nice enough guy, the pressure seems to be getting to him. His wife Maggie (Erbe) is sweet and understanding, but she also wants more for her husband and son Jake (Cope).
Things go from bad to just plain screwy when Tom agrees to let himself be hypnotized by Lisa (Douglas), Maggie's screwy sister. It seems the hypnosis has triggered some unwelcome and realistically terrifying visions in Tom's head. Are the visions a message from beyond the grave, or is Tom finally about to snap and lose his marbles all over the neighborhood?
The twists in Stir of Echoes come at a brisk clip, and by the time the somewhat predictable conclusion arrives you'll be too caught up to mind the familiarity. Tom's visions cause him to behave erratically at first and then just plain nutty when he begins to doubt his own sanity.
Koepp keeps the audience guessing on most of the plot points, and there are a few clever surprises along the way. (The feathers were a nice touch.) Kevin Bacon is riveting in his role, as he sets up a likable blue-collar character and then makes us wonder if maybe we shouldn't be liking him at all. Kathryn Erbe stands out as Maggie, bringing a few extra layers to a part generally relegated to the background in horror movies. (I recognized Erbe as the woman who played Richard Dreyfuss' daughter in What About Bob? She's grown up!)Maybe this is just an OK movie. But with all the horror CRAP that we have to wade through, it's nice to see one that takes itself seriously, is professionally made and is basically just a quality movie. Maybe it's not the most original story, but hell, what ghost story IS?