STIR OF ECHOES

4 Stars
Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 99 minutes
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Tom Witzkey (Kevin Bacon) is a little depressed. He spends his days working for the Phone Company and his nights with his wife, Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and young son, Jake (Zachary David Cope). He plays with a band, occasionally, but he always felt he should be something more; someone less ordinary. Be careful what you wish for: when Tom’s sister-in-law (Illeana Douglas) hypnotizes him, she accidentally unlocks a new kind of vision in him that Tom doesn’t understand, but his son does. The newly extraordinary Tom is about to find that Jake’s “imaginary” friends are more substantial than he thought.
The first coincidence you may pick up on would be the thematic similarities between this film and the vastly overrated “Sixth Sense”. “Echoes” has a longer pedigree, as it was originally a novel by Richard Matheson. This new film also changes tone once in a while, is internally consistent, and develops more than one or two three-dimensional characters. Kevin Bacon (aging quite gracefully past 40, I might add) sets the tone as the initially frightened man who soon embraces the adventure of his new life. Erbe is great, but the big scene-stealer is the kid. Ten-year-old Haley Joel Osment is very good in “The Sixth Sense”, but six-year-old Cope is incredible. I hate most child actors (most are ruined by stage parents and bad regional theater) but Cope may be the most natural and disarming (really) young actor I’ve ever seen, but then he doesn’t have to carry the film on his back as Osment did.
I figure most of the credit for this small, but incredibly entertaining film goes to writer/director David Koepp, the screenwriter behind “Jurassic Park”, “Snake Eyes”, “Mission Impossible” and others. Using the foundation of the Matheson novel, he’s built his film with great acting, a though-out plot, an engrossing story, and developed (but rambunctious) characters. It’s nice to see he relied on more than heavy-handed filmmaking and a twist ending. I just hope audiences go for a supernatural thriller that’s a little messier and doesn’t feel the need to claw at their heart for two hours. At least give it a shot.



Posted on September 6, 1999 in Reviews by
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