Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) 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 somethingsupernatural 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 intensfy, Tom realizes they are pieces of a puzzle, echoes of a crime calling out to be solved. But when his other-worldly nightmares begin coming true, Tom wants out. He desperately tries to ridhimself of his eerie, unwanted powers - only to be seized by an irresistible compulsion to dig deeper and deeper into the mystery that is consuming his life. When at last he unearths the truth, it will draw him into the long-buried secret of a ghastly crime, a vengeful spirit...and the lethal price of laying that spirit to rest.
The only real problem with Stir of Echoes
has nothing to do with the movie itself, but with unlucky coincidence. Adapted from a Richard Matheson novel, this film arrived around the same time as The Sixth Sense
, and surface similarities made it suffer by cursory comparison and the competing film's phenomenal success. It's a pity, because this one features one of Kevin Bacon's best performances, in a psychological thriller that makes a lot more right moves than wrong ones. Bacon plays a blue-collar guy who laments his ordinary life, only to learn, when his sister-in-law (Ileanna Douglas) hypnotizes him, that he is a "receiver" capable of seeing spirits and split-second glimpses of past and future events. It's a torturous gift to have--especially since his friendly Chicago neighborhood possesses a dark secret--and Bacon plays the role with an appropriate mixture of obsession and internalized torment.
Similarity to The Sixth Sense
applies only to the basic premise and the character of Bacon's young son. Otherwise, this is more of a hard-edged journey of self-discovery, marital crisis, and recovery, with Bacon's wife (played by the highly underrated Kathryn Erbe) involved in an underdeveloped subplot about a group of people who share Bacon's gift as paranormal "receivers." Furthering his career as a writer-director of intelligent thrillers, David Koepp makes a few missteps in pacing and thematic overkill, but overall Stir of Echoes
is a sharp, sensitive thriller that unfolds to reveal a dramatically satisfying solution to its mystery. --Jeff Shannon