I don’t know whether it was the arrival of a new millennium or something else but the late nineties generated some pretty interesting supernatural thrillers. I was in my late teens back then, eating up every occult and supernatural story I could get my hands on. I’m talking about movies like The Ninth Gate, Stigmata, and Fallen. Although the trend continued with perhaps better representatives of the genre The Mothman Prophecies, Frequency, and The Others. So, after this pleasant stroll down memory lane let’s focus on the movie we’re going to be talking about today.
Stir of Echoes is a competent, atmospheric, and intriguing supernatural thriller bolstered by excellent performances. Not only Kevin Bacon was excellent but also Illeana Douglas gave the movie that it factor. We will be following Tom, a young guy who after being hypnotized starts seeing things. Things that should not be there. Directed by trusty David Koepp who wrote a tone of blockbusters, this movie will suck you into its world almost immediately. It almost feels like a budget version of some bigger movie. However, this is just a consequence of a smaller and more personal plot.
Something that made the movie feel more authentic and believable. Along with familiar characters that have the same jobs and dreams most of us do. And I bet you talked with your friends at least a couple of times about hypnosis. And generated that “fuck me, could this be real” atmosphere. Especially if you like movies about the supernatural. To further bolster this claim, I should tell you that the procedure for hypnosis is very much real. They had to use music and sounds to keep susceptible viewers from being hypnotized while watching this movie!
Tom Witzky is a working-class man who loves his family more than anything else. He works a rather dull job and as he’s getting older, craves something different. Something engaging, something that will make him feel alive. This is why he accepts his wife’s sister’s invitation to hypnotize him. Tom thinks this is going to be a fun parlor trick not knowing that his whole life is about to completely change.
Quite pacey and immersive, Stir of Echoes is also a short movie with a running time of just over ninety minutes. After a brief intro, we’re thrown into this nightmarish atmosphere that keeps escalating. Some of the scenes are quite uncomfortable as they feel like bad dreams and look quite realistic. Since I haven’t read the novel I can’t tell you if this is Matheson’s or Koepp’s work but it’s mighty effective. At least it is now as I wonder how this movie will hold up in ten years’ time.
Character-driven and with interesting insights regarding hypnosis, it’s perfect for breaking those “what are we going to watch tonight” discussions. And if you like it, Stir of Echoes can be a beginning of a glorious journey through the vastness of supernatural thrillers.
Director: David Koepp
Writers: Richard Matheson, David Koepp
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Illeana Douglas, Larry Neumann Jr., Steve Rifkin, Chalon Williams
Fun Facts: The babysitter is reading the book “The Shrinking Man” by Richard Matheson, author of novel upon this movie is based on.