Stirred but not Shaken
Whilst before watching I had heard of "Stir of Echoes" it didn't really ring any bells other than it starred Kevin Bacon but shortly after I realised why. The reason is that this is one of those creepy super natural movies and it was released in the same year as "The Sixth Sense" which ended up over shadowing it for being memorable. That doesn't mean that "Stir of Echoes" is poor it is a well put together movie which not only has the creepy super natural side but also some depth which takes it beyond being just horror.
Tom (Kevin Bacon - Wild Things) and Maggie Witzky (Kathryn Erbe - D2: The Mighty Ducks) are a normal hard working couple, scraping by to look after their son with another child on its way. But at a party across the street Maggie's open minded sister Lisa (Illeana Douglas) persuades the sceptical Tom to allow her to put him under hypnosis. After that strange things start to happen as Tom gets these intense visions including seeing a dead girl sitting on their sofa which Maggie can't see but their son can. It causes issues for the loving couple as Tom becomes obsessed with the girl leaving Maggie confused as to what is going on.
I am going to say that "Stir of Echoes" is in fact an intelligent movie because it doesn't treat the audience as stupid. It takes us on this journey as first we get an intense series of scenes involving Tom suddenly find himself connecting to the ghost world and then slowly drip feeds us information to create this uneasy mystery. But rather than just being about Tom and what becomes an obsession with understanding why he sees the ghost of a dead girl we also see how it affects his marriage and life because he becomes so obsessed with it. It makes it far more rounded than your average ghost movie which tries to make you jump and instead aims to creep you out with a constantly increasing intensity.
That is probably why "Stir of Echoes" ends up lesser known than "The Sixth Sense" because it is a movie which forces you to think and follow rather than just wait for the next shock. In fact the actual shocks are where it is at its weakness because they often feel out of place with the ordinariness of the set up. It just feels forced when all of a sudden Tom finds himself in another world face to face with a ghost. It is the same with the moments of dark humour when all of a sudden Tom fills the fridge with orange juice; it is just a little too quirky for the sensible tone of the movie.
As for the acting well Kevin Bacon is certainly the star name in the movie and he delivers a solid performance as an ordinary guy finding himself in anything but an ordinary situation. But Bacon is matched brilliantly by Kathryn Erbe as Maggie who tries to be understanding and supportive but finds herself feeling pushed out. And then there is Zachary David Cope as young Jake and whilst Cope is not the most creepy of kids he pulls off some of those typical scenes of creepy kid behaviour such as talking to someone who is not there, but does so in a perfectly ordinary, matter of fact manner.
What this all boils down to is that "Stir of Echoes" whilst not perfect is certainly an intelligent ghost movie with a nicely rounded script and solid performances which keep you involved in the unfolding drama.