Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/28/00
Stir of Echoes
1999 (2000) - Artisan
review by Frank Ortiz of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
94 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:53, at the
beginning of chapter 18), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary
with writer/director David Koepp, behind the scenes footage, "making-of"
featurette, Breathe music
video for by Moist, production notes, cast and filmmaker bios and
filmographies, theatrical trailer, four TV spots, film-themed menu
screens with animation and sound, scene access (30 chapters),
languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
Submitted for your
approval... a typical mid-town Chicago neighborhood. Tom and Maggie
Witzky (played by Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe) are a happy couple
with what seems to be a very normal son. The sarcastic and skeptical
Tom willingly lets his sister-in-law hypnotize him at a party. But
soon after Tom is hypnotized, he starts seeing disturbing visions
that bring him to the realization that his son is also seeing
things. During an intimate moment with his wife, one set of visions
stir Tom's mind and emotions until he becomes obsessed with a
message he is receiving from beyond the grave.
Stir of Echoes ends up being
your basic ghost story. We're seeing things through Tom Witzky's
visions, and that's a neat creative angle. It's neat for a lot of
reasons, but mostly because it allows the movie watcher to be that
much more interested (and even a little sympathetic) with a man who
can see a ghost. Writer/director David Koepp wanted to keep things
simple and realistic, so we're not subjected to crazy effects, which
is nice. The effect he attains gives a raw, more human feeling to
the story and adds real energy to the pace of the film. There are
some flash-cut images and quick sounds that made the visions seem
more eerie or disturbing, but it's not terribly horrific. It's all
in the editing anyway. The contrast between intensity in one scene
and slow routine movement in the next gives added texture and
suspense, making this an easily watchable yarn.
With that said, although I really appreciate the way the film was
created, I found the plot to be a little too formula. Unfortunately,
I was able to figure out the ending well in advance. Still, Stir
of Echoes is definitely put together well and features
some fine performances. I believe that Kevin Bacon is one of the
most under-appreciated actors working in film today. His performance
is so natural here, that his character's transitions seem smooth and
believable. Zachary David Cope and Kathryn Erbe are good as well.
Zachary is especially adept at showing little facial expressions
within the character that keep his performance interesting and
The film contains a lot of dark and low lit scenes, but the image
on this DVD holds its own. This is a great anamorphic transfer from
Artisan. The video is clean and bright, with great detail. The
colors are excellent - rich and full without any apparent bleeding.
Contrast is also excellent, with deep and solid blacks (which is
nice considering how dark some of the shots get). The Dolby Digital
surround sound is well mixed. I actually looked around in the middle
of the movie once or twice, making sure I wasn't hearing something
behind me. The directional placement is superb, with the subtle
sounds of voices from beyond the grave coming from just about every
direction. The dialogue is crisp and clear. There's not much bass
happening in the mix, but what you get is enough.
The best extra on board is the commentary track by David Koepp. I
found it to be insightful and easy to sit through. You can listen to
Koepp discuss his influences, and the peers that helped him with
ideas on the film (such as director Brian De Palma). He also talks
about how he shot the ghosts so as to make them look different than
anything we've seen on film so far. He even reveals that he's a
football fan - he grew up in Wisconsin and he had a hard time
editing the film one Monday night, because the Vikings were beating
up the his beloved Packers. As good as the commentary is however, it
might have been nice to have someone else on the track too (Kevin
Bacon would have been an obvious choice).
Also on the disc, you'll find three cast and filmmaker bios that
include brief interviews with Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe and Koepp.
There's also a featurette (which is a little disappointing, being
only a little over two minutes long), and a candid behind-the-scenes
piece that lasts around six minutes. I suppose it's just grand that
they're present at all - we'll take what we can get.
Yes... this is another movie where some of the characters see dead
people. But this movie can definitely stand on its own merits. Even
if it's a little predictable, I'd have to say that it's still worth
a spin. Check it out if you dare.