Volume 93, Issue 9

Tuesday, September 14, 1999


Stigmata leaves the marks of good thriller

Beck proves good music transcends all barriers

Shooting for opinion, not for stars

Brothers deliver pop slam dunk

Echoes stirs viewers

New Parade needs polishing, High & Mighty have strong Advantage

Echoes stirs viewers

Gazette file photo
I KNOW SAFE SEX IS IMPORTANT, BUT THIS IS JUST OVERBOARD. As Tom Witzky, Kevin Bacon struggles with the psychological horrors unleashed from his hypnosis in Stir of Echoes.

Stir of Echoes

Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe
Directed by David Koepp

By Sara Martel
Gazette Staff

A hint of inflated acting, sloppy plot movement or inadequate effects will kill a thriller. Deliver it in any kind of packaging which isn't airtight and just watch it flounder painfully while gasping to survive.

With this axiom in mind, director David Koepp's new supernatural thriller Stir of Echoes certainly knows it's element and swims well within its bounds. The result is a genuinely frightening movie packaged well enough to hold the attention of any audience.

The story begins with a brief introduction to the notably banal Chicago lives of Tom and Maggie Witzky and their young son Jake. The Witzky's quiet lives are soon disrupted after Tom's sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) hypnotizes him for fun. Although Tom does not believe in the power of hypnosis, he is soon convinced otherwise.

The exercise unlocks closed psychological doors and allows a horrific secret to come out. A series of chilling visions leads Tom to a startling realization – his son Jake shares his ability to connect mentally to other realms.

Part of the power behind Stir of Echoes is the direct manner in which Koepp tells the story. He knows how to set the stage, dress the characters and drop the curtain without muddling the plot or losing the audience with superfluous detail or ideas. Without extra baggage, the movie is free to do what it was meant to – tell a scary story. In doing so, the chills are achieved by walking the fine line between clever guesswork and startling images.

Like many thrillers, Stir of Echoes weakens mildly in the end. Koepp spares the audience a collective groan by barely resisting the urge to tie every detail of the movie together within the final five minutes of screen time. The film manages to jump away from this temptation in time to seal the story with relative realism and little disappointment.

Aside from the overall presentation of the movie, the smaller details within Stir of Echoes are held together by a pervading sense of creepiness. These small details, when combined with the larger facets of the film, form a tightly bundled movie which never oversteps the accepted boundaries for a thriller.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999