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STIR OF ECHOES

SYNOPSIS:
Five year old Jake Witzky (Zachary David Cope) is behaving strangely, which naturally worries his parents Tom (Kevin Bacon) and Maggie (Kathryn Erbe). But when Tom submits to hypnosis at the hands of his sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) he begins to experience strange things himself. Visions, hallucinations maybe, appear to him. At first theyíre fractured, but gradually become clearer - and they may have something to do with the mystery of a local girl who has disappeared without a trace.

"Starting with a good story, Stir of Echoes generates genuine intrigue that doesn't rely on the supernatural or extensive special effects or the danger of creatures from the world beyond. This solid basis is echoed in the earthy Chicago neighbourhood settings shot in autumnal light, anchoring the film in a world that's real and tangible to us. And refreshingly, satisfyingly unfamiliar. The performances are just as satisfying, with Zachary David Cope doing for this film what Haley Joel Osment did for The Sixth Sense: makes us believe. Kevin Bacon is remarkably effective as the caring father whose skepticism is rudely ruptured. Illeana Douglas, a self confessed spook freak, creates a nicely complete Lisa, whose hypnotic powers trigger Tom's journey into the unknown. But it's what the writers have done with the concept that is the real star, giving the ghost story a real edge and a real reason. In that respect, it's an old fashioned concept, delivered in contemporary filmmaking terms. Also worthy of note is the simple but effective portrayal of the ghost of the young girl at the centre of the mystery; shot at six frames per second (while moving slowly) she seems slightly but oddly jerky, to great effect. Stir of Echoes is a psycho-thriller with guts -and worth an evening out."
Andrew L. Urban

"Hot on the heels of the excellent Sixth Sense, a rash of "I can see ghosts" movies has started hitting our screens. Along with Martin Scorseseís Bringing Out the Dead, this rather smaller scale film has jumped on the bandwagon. Stir of Echoes doesnít have the inventiveness of Sixth Sense, but itís nonetheless a solid meld of supernatural and thriller genres. Where it falls down is that having set up the potential for an exciting climax, the screenwriters donít seem to know where to take it; and end up settling for a fairly - no, very - routine finale. To its credit though, Stir of Echoes generally doesnít resort to special effects to tell the story. Apart from one stunning sequence early on, the film largely avoids splashy visual shows. This is in keeping with the filmís setting in a working class Chicago neighbourhood and lends an air of believability to the story. The film is anchored in the performance of Kevin Bacon as the determinedly blue collar, salt-of-the-earth guy Tom Witzky. Bacon turns in a strong performance; particularly in the more interesting first half of the film. When heís under hypnosis of experiencing one of his "visions", you can almost feel his confusion (perhaps torment) at whatís happening to him. The entrancing but little-seen Kathryn Erbe plays off Bacon convincingly as his loyal but anxious wife; while Illeana Douglas lends limited but good support as the almost licensed hypnotherapist who starts Tom on his journey. While Stir of Echoes wonít win any prizes for originality, itís a solid thriller with some moments of genuinely spine-tingling tension."
David Edwards

"The shame about Stir of Echoes is that The Sixth Sense preceded its release, as comparisons will be inevitable even though it is an exciting thriller that stands in its own right. Based on the novel of the same name, which was first optioned as a film 35 years ago, Stir of Echoes raises comparisons because of its storyline of a young boy's ability to see ghosts. But it is quite different. This film focuses on the journey of the father in a top notch performance by Kevin Bacon whose Tom is an engaging study of mounting pressure on an emotionally restricted ordinary man. Cinematically it is much more imaginative than its predecessor with stunning images accompanying Tom's hypnotism and the 'other' world. The story itself is told at a solid pace, keeping us enthralled thoughout. As is so often the case though, a key plot point towards the end makes no sense whatsoever. It's only a minor point but the whole reason for the plot hangs on it. To explain more would be to expose too much. Suffice to say, it jars. Given that all movies have their faults though, this is an above average thriller. Writer/director David Koepp has brought us an engaging study of a working class Chicago neighbourhood and the relationships within that: friendships, families, and marriages. Bacon is supported by an impressive cast. Well worth a look."
Lee Gough

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

STIR OF ECHOES (M)
(US)

CAST: Kevin Bacon, Zachary David Cope, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Liza Weil, Kevin Dunn, Conor O'Farrell, Jenny Morrison, Lisa Lewis, Eddie Bo Smith Jr.

DIRECTOR: David Koepp

PRODUCER: Judy Hofflund, Gavin Polone

SCRIPT: David Koepp, Richard Matheson (novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fred Murphy

EDITOR: Jill Savitt

MUSIC: James Newton Howard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nelson Coates

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 27, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: November 22, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment







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