Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is an ordinary guy whose life later becomes complicated. During a get together at a block party, he talks his sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) into hypnotizing him. She pulls it off and places a post hypnotic suggestion in Tom to make him more open-minded. She doesn't realize this leads to opening a mental door that allows him to somewhat communicate with the dead. Tom is soon hounded by a spirit that wants something really bad.-summary
When Stir of Echoes was released back in 1999, it was immediately considered a clone of The Sixth Sense which starred Bruce Willis. For reasons I can't remember because it has been so long since I saw the other film. I remember enjoying this one a lot more, perhaps it had something to do with its simplicity. Directed by David Koepp and based on the book A Stir of Echoes written by Richard Matheson, Stir of Echoes is a supernatural horror thriller that delivers on suspense and creepiness.
The plot begins when Tom begins to hallucinate, then later learns that he possesses a precognitive sense which leads to some weird and very disturbing visions. There is some type of connection and the viewer will easily begin to guess what it is, but things are kept vague enough to keep you wanting more. Tom's 5 year old son Jake (Zachary David Cope) plays a role in this as well, since he can actually speak to the spirit as well as see it. This sets in motion a chain of events that results in a gripping, very well paced viewing experience.
I thought Koepp did a splendid job in blurring reality and dreams, along with taking the simplest of set pieces and getting the most out of them to produce chills. I haven't seen the movie in years, and the appearance of the spirit in combination with Tom's reality shifts still made my skin crawl.
The characters are well developed and they stood out to me mainly because of how ordinary they are. They feel like everyday normal people, who just got hit with something complicated out of nowhere, and they act the part very well. The performances by Illeana Douglas and Kathryn Erbe whom played Tom's wife Maggie were just as good as everyone else, but I enjoyed Douglas the most though.
Towards the end of the film, I kind of thought that the spirit was a little over-exposed, and I didn't really like the ending all that much. I would have preferred less of a thriller type ending, and I'll just leave it at that.
Overall, Stir of Echoes is a very solid horror thriller that I do recommend. It's still very good over ten years later and felt pretty damn refreshing to watch. There are a couple of squeamish scenes, and one little sex scene, but nothing I can consider damaging to the viewing experience. The movie has a 99 minute run time.
Pros: moments of instant goosebumps, realism Cons: that shudder-worthy fingernail scene! The Bottom Line: "Does it hurt to be dead?" Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is just an average Chicago Joe working hard as a telephone lineman to make ends meet for his family. Wife, Maggie (Kathryn Erbe), and clever young Jake (Zachary David Cope) have settled in nicely, … more
Chicago telephone lineman Tom Witzkey (Bacon) is hypnotized at a party by his sister-in-law (Douglas) and begins seeing the ghost of a neighborhood girl murdered years before. He comes to the discovery that he is a Receiver--one who is able to see spirits. Now in possession of knowledge he never wanted to know, Tom struggles through his daily existence plagued by these newly-acquired supernatural visions while attempting to retain his sanity.