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          Tom Witzky is a blue-collar worker, a family man, the most ordinary guy in the world... who is about to be plunged into a shattering encounter with another world. And it doesn't matter that Tom doesn't believe in the supernatural. Because something supernatural has started to believe in Tom.
          After he is hypnotized at a neighborhood party, Tom changes. He sees things he can't explain and hears voices he can't ignore. As the horrific visions intensify, Tom realizes they are pieces of a puzzle, echoes of a crime calling out to be solved.

"Does it hurt to be dead?"
                  - Jake Witzky

          At first glance, Stir of Echoes is yet another average scary movie - the type with the plot Hollywood has been shoveling out since The Sixth Sense was released in 1999. Stir of Echoes, based on the novel of the same title (save a missing "A"), came out the same year as The Sixth Sense, and no doubt the reason it did poorly at the box office is because of this fact. But in all truth, this film, though very predictable, has a lot of twists, and I guessed The Sixth Sense's ending long before this ones. The ending, like many of these films, falls apart a bit and becomes quite average, but then the twists come into play and totally redeem the film.
          Tom Witzky is a telephone lineman, living in Chicago with his wife and son. The neighborhood he lives in isn't exactly a bad area - everyone knows everyone, everything is out in the open. Or so it seems. Amanda's sister puts Tom into a deep hypnosis one night at a party, just for some fun, and when he snaps out of it he has become a Receiver, one who is open to everything around him. He starts seeing things, flashbacks. One character describes the flashbacks as "a flashlight that switches on and off." And as the flashlight continues to flutter, Tom slowly loses his mind.
          A girl's ghost haunts their home. Tom's son is more of a Receiver than Tom, able to converse with the being and see it constantly. Soon Tom realizes that the ghost is trying to tell them something, trying to get them to do something. But what?
          Kevin Bacon gives the performance of his career here. I've never seen him channel a character so well - he's even got the gruff Chicago accent down pat.
          The ending to Stir of Echoes didn't really blow me away, I had long guessed it (as usual), but there were some small plot twists along the way that made the story much more fun to follow. Such as the feathers element. Trust me, you'll understand what I mean after you see the movie.
          Regarding the feathers, it took me a moment for it all to register at the end. Unlike a lot of other cheap horror/thrillers out there, Stir of Echoes does do one thing that separates it from the ordinary - it gives its audience a chance to be an active audience, not just a lazy, sit-back-and-watch-it-unfold audience. Scenes DO unfold, but there are many other elements of the film that you must pay attention to. Stir of Echoes definitely qualifies for a second viewing and perhaps purchase.

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          - The hypnosis sequence in which Tom is hypnotized for the first time follows actual hypnosis techniques used by professional hypnotists. In order to ensure that the audience hasn't been put to sleep (and some susceptible people have been), there's a musical accent at the close of the sequence to wake everyone up.

          - On the couch, the babysitter reads "The Shrinking Man" by Richard Matheson -- author of "A Stir of Echoes," the basis for this film.

          - Lisa tells Maggie the baby she is expecting will be a Gemini, and that "Einstein was a Gemini." In fact, Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, making him a Pisces.

          - Jake Witzky watches The Mummy's Shroud on TV when his mother tells him to turn it off. Night of the Living Dead then appears on every channel as he attempts to turn off the TV.

          - During the hypnosis session, Kevin Bacon is told to imagine a movie theatre where everything is painted black (walls, chairs, everything but the screen). Later, during the rape scene, a stereo plays "Paint it black" by Gob.

          - Kathryn Erbe's tattoo on her back reads "T + M" (standing for her husband Terry and her daughter Mave) and features a heart around the letters. This inspired the exact same tattoo placed on the inside of Kevin Bacon's forearm, which stands for the two actors characters, Tom and Maggie.

          - The flashback scene where the girl is murdered is almost exactly the same as the psychic flashback scene experienced by Christopher Walken's character in The Dead Zone.

          - The scene where Maggie is sitting in the car in the rain was shot on a night when it actually was raining very heavily, but the rain did not look "real" on film. The crew had to set up an awning to cover the car from the rain, then rig up rain making equipment under the awning to achieve the look of "real" rain.




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