Retro Movie Review: 'Stir of Echos' (1999)

When a man’s (Kevin Bacon) sister-in-law (Illeana Douglas) hypnotizes him at a party, it kick starts a series of strange events, and an even darker mystery. Besieged by terrifying visions of a young woman from that point on; Tom's desperate efforts to make them stop takes an unraveling toll on his life.

While figuring out why he has the ability to conjure these visions in the first place is an equally fascinating and vital aspect to the movie’s plot. Paranormal and eerie in overall tone, 1999's "Stir of Echoes" taps into the supernatural by keeping it based in a hyper reality.

A refreshing angle to the script is the inclusion of the entire family in the drama and seeing how it impacts them. As a result of his growing obsession for answers, Tom’s wife Maggie, (Kathryn Erbe) and their adorable son Jake (Zachary David Cope) are alienated from his attention.

The portrayal of his family plays a pivotal role in setting this paranormal entry apart. The character of the wife is especially pleasant, a welcomed reprieve from the usually nagging and petulant spouses that fill the horror genre. In contrast, Maggie never gives up or threatens to leave when she is frustrated. Her ferocious loyalty to her family helps the audience care more for their plight.

The overarching mystery is a bit predictable and the denouement is decently executed. The mysterious journey makes up the difference. It’s an interesting ride that lends itself to emotive and compelling drama. Director David Koepp conjures some trippy imagery, while sustaining an apt pace that plunges full steam ahead avoiding the cliche hand wringing that bogs down similar fare.

Kevin Bacon gives an engaging performance that runs the gamut - from a disoriented average guy to a frantically determined, man on edge. Co-star Kathryn Erbe plays the tough and devoted wife with edgy ferocity.

The greatest achievement for the casting department is Zachary David Cope who plays the son of Bacon and Erbe’s characters. A child actor is risky business for any movie because the stakes are so high. They can either annoy an audience to distraction or endear themselves to the heart of the story as a crucial asset. Happily for "Stir of Echoes", Cope falls into the latter category. It’s a performance the film hinges on and it works.

If you’re ready to get some chills and ponder some thrills, this movie will provide them. Rating: 7.5/10

Thanks to Dr. Bones (@DrcBones) for suggesting this movie.

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