Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Liza Weil, Kevin Dunn, Conor O'Farrell, Jennifer Morrison, Zachary David Cope, Lisa Lewis, Eddie Bo Smith Jr., Steve Rifkin
Written by: David Koepp, based on a novel by Richard Matheson
Directed by: David Koepp
MPAA Rating:
Language: with English subtitles
Running Time: -99
Date: 07/28/1999

Stir of Echoes (1999)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Stir' Blur

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Stir of Echoes is like a cheaper B-movie version of The Sixth Sense with a little Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Poltergeist (1982) thrown in. Even so, it gave me a few chills and some kicks. Kevin Bacon plays Tom Witzky, a suburban Chicago family man who gets hypnotized at a party and finds his mind "awakened." He begins seeing visions and ghosts in his home. His little boy Jake (Zachary David Cope) seems to have the same power but has his consciousness under a great deal more control. Tom isn't sure what he's supposed to do. His wife (Kathryn Erbe) does a little research and finds out what's going on but for some reason doesn't bother to tell her husband. Their little boy doesn't offer much help either. Eventually, with the help of the hypnotist (Illeana Douglas) Tom begins to put the pieces together, leading to a murder that has taken place in his home. Stir of Echoes is written and directed by David Koepp, who provided screenplays for such films as Jurassic Park (1993), Carlito's Way (1993), and Snake Eyes (1998), and wrote and directed The Trigger Effect (1996). In this movie Koepp gives us a specific time and place: a Chicago suburb where people walk to each other's houses and to the local high school football games, as well as throw block parties complete with cheap beer and friendly brawling. The whole cast is competent here, especially Bacon, and they make us believe that this story is happening to real people. Yet Koepp drops the ball by throwing in a conventional ending borrowed from a dozen straight-to-cable throwaways and, in a season that has also given us The Sixth Sense, his movie doesn't quite measure up. Still, I have to give Stir of Echoes credit for borrowing from good movies instead of low-grade product like I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Few movies this year have set their sights so high.

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