Monday, February 8, 2016

Stir of Echoes – Be Very Afraid of Hypnotists

Runtime: 99 minutes
Release Date: September 10, 1999
Rating: R
Director: David Koepp

Tom is a working class guy living in a rental home with his son and wife, Maggie. His sister-in-law Lisa is constantly talking down to him and acting like he's a terrible guy, which just gets worse when Maggie announces that she's pregnant. At a party, Lisa decides to hypnotize him. When he comes out of it, the guests all have a good laugh at his expense but his life is changed forever.

After that night, he finds himself seeing things that aren't there. He even has a vision of his neighbor's son killing his whole family and then killing himself. Many of his visions involve a young woman with glasses. After asking around, he learns that she was a mentally challenged girl who lived in the neighborhood and went missing one night. Jake, his son, also sees the same girl and says her name is Sam.

One night, Tom and Maggie go to a football game with their friends and hire a new babysitter. They never used Debbie before, but Jake suggested her after talking to Samantha. Tom starts seeing strange things that night and quickly runs back home to find Jake gone. They learn that Debbie is actually Samantha's sister and after hearing that Jake talks to Sam and saw her in the house, she raced him to her mother. Tom quickly finds himself caught up in the mystery of what happened to Samantha and whether his neighbors and friends had anything to do with her disappearance.

When I was in college, my best friend/roommate and I were far from partiers. We would rather spend the night playing board games, watching Buffy, or hanging out in our room than hitting up a kegger. That led to use watching a lot of movies and going to the movie theater a lot. We probably saw Stir of Echoes six times in the theater, making it second only to Final Destination in terms of the films we saw in the theater. When Netflix recently added it, I was worried that I wouldn't like it as much as I did before. Thankfully my worries were wrong.

Stir of Echoes reminds us of the talents of some actors we forgot about in the past. I can't remember that last time Kevin Bacon starred in a hit film, but he does a really great job here. You really do believe that he's a man slowly losing his mind and you believe that he really does care about the fate of poor Samantha. Zachary David Cope also does a great job as Jake, which makes me wonder why he stopped acting. Credit also has to go to Kathryn Erbe – who many know from Law & Order: Criminal Intent – as Maggie and Illeana Douglas as Lisa. I'm pretty sure she hasn't been in anything I didn't like.

One minor issue is that the director starts throwing too many hints at us towards the end, which makes it easy to figure out what really did happen. I'm also not a big fan of the actual ending, mainly because I think seeing a dead girl wander off with a smile on her face is pure cheese. It does have some great jump scenes that I completely forgot about, and those scenes actually did have me jumping out of my seat.

Stir of Echoes is probably just as good if not better than you remember, and you'll definitely like it poor than the weak sequel that followed.

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