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
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.