Stir of Echoes

Director: David Koepp

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

As cute-child-who-can-see-the-dead stories go, The Stir of Echoes is less reliant on a "surprise" ending than The Sixth Sense, so more apt to hold up to a second viewing, though on first viewing Sixth Sense seemed more powerful. The string of child-sees-the-dead movies that followed the 1999 release of Sixth Sense perhaps should not include Stir of Echoes since they were in the theaters at the same time & resemblances may have been more coincidence than with imitators to follow.

Jake Witzky (Zachary David Cope) has a natural ability to see & hear the dead. He's not afraid of them, & one, Samantha, has become his invisible playmate. Jake's dad Tom (Kevin Backon) has just had his ability to see the dead awakened by his hippy-dippy sister-in-law amateur hypnotist, & dad is really scared.

On that could've hung a great story, the tale of an accepting five year old who is not quite mature enough to discuss what's happening, & his dad who simply refuses to understand. Unfortunately the film isn't about that. At one point it's only about digging holes in the back yard. But there's enough of the father-son exchange to convey a degree of familial depth to the story.

There's good acting throughout but once the premise is in place it turns into a minor crime caper of "who killed the girl & buried her in the basement" with Dad ripping the place apart looking for the ghost's corpse & trying to resolve the crime by his newfound supernatural skills rather than ever calling the cops.

It should've been more about the ability to see the dead rather than just the one case. But it's a good film even so with a good cast & probably would've looked even better if we hadn't already seen The Sixth Sense a couple weeks earlier; it's hard to be impressed with the same thing twice in a row.

There are loopholes in the storyline that a universe could fall into. The mediumistic cop was a particularly annoying one. He's introduced as a police officer who volunteers to help a family he suspects might be in crisis over (let us call it) the Shining. But the only other time we see him, he's a wacko in daishiki drag who just doesn't want to be bothered with any of it. It was not a consistent character plus he had nothing to add to the story.

And mom, though she did squeeze out of the cop needed information about why her husband had to pursue the ghost's requests, she thereafter continues to be something of a bitch about it annoyed that hubby's digging up the yard. So not only was the mediumistic cop an inconsistent character but his presence provided no one with any piece of information the main characters required or used.

Apparently the cop's explanation was actually just him talking to the audience & his purpose was essentially to tell us, rather than anyone in the story, hey stupid, this story is supernatural. With better continuity & internal logic this could've been a right fine horror yarn, but as it stands it's just a slicked-up well-budgetted ordinary horror yarn.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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