Oh, man! I haven't watched this movie in almost nineteen years! I was going through my unwatched DVDs tonight, looking for a suitable movie, and I came across this gem. I remember sitting in my first apartment, watching this movie with the other members of my band, and all of us humming along with the cryptic song, racking our brains trying to figure out where we'd heard the melody before. When it was finally revealed, we all shouted in unison, "OH! The Stones!" I didn't realize until partway through the opening credits that this is the second film I'm reviewing this month based upon the work of Richard Matheson, the first being The Last Man On Earth. So without any further delay, let's DIG right into Stir of Echoes.
The film opens with a young boy named Jake talking to somebody that neither of his parents can see or hear. Thinking it's just childish fantasy, they ignore him, never hearing him ask the unseen person a very important question: "Does it hurt to be dead?" After a party at a neighbor's house, the boy's father Tom (played by Kevin Bacon) teases his sister-in-law Lisa until she agrees to hypnotize him. She agrees, and Tom immediately sees terrifying visions, but the other partygoers only saw him performing silly parlor tricks, much to their amusement. The visions continue, and Tom begins seeing the ghost of a young girl in his house. Tom and Maggie hire a babysitter suggested by Jake, who says that Samantha told him about her. When Jake is alone with the babysitter, he mentions Samantha, and the girl kidnaps him. Tom has a vision and tracks Jake and the girl to the train station, where the girl's mother informs them that Samantha is her oldest daughter, and she is missing. Tom returns to Lisa demanding she undo whatever she did while he was under hypnosis. Instead of ridding him of the visions, Tom is given a new cryptic message from Samantha... "DIG." Obsessed, Tom begins tearing up the backyard, and later the house, desperate for answers and an end to the terrifying visions.
CONTENT WARNING: Rape/Assault
Individuals for whom sexual assault is a trigger may want to steer clear of this film, as Samantha's assault that ultimately leads to her death is quite violent. Knowing my wife has a thing about fingernails, I had to warn her when a shot of Samantha's fingernail snapping as she fought back was coming up. All that being said, I was surprised when I recognized Jennifer Morrison in the role. Many viewers will probably recognize her as Dr. Cameron from the medical drama series House. The ghostly Samantha is creepy without being overly threatening or relying on heavy makeup or special effects, which I think makes her much more effective.
Two scenes that will undoubtedly make most viewers cringe are the aforementioned fingernail scene and the tooth scene (pictured). While they're definitely cringe-inducing and even a bit stomach-churning, they're not over-the-top gore, which a good ghost movie doesn't need. Just be ready to cover your eyes when Kevin Bacon notices the blood on his mouth if that kind of thing bothers you.
Speaking of Kevin Bacon, he really shines in this movie, and by shine I mean he channels Jack Nicholson in The Shining a little bit as the visions really begin to plague him. To be honest, Tom's not a very likable character, but that just makes the movie all the better because not everyone is likable, and by the end of the movie, Tom has certainly redeemed himself, at least in my eyes. I do have to count this as one of my favorite Kevin Bacon performances.
So what's the verdict? Well, I loved the movie! And as long as none of the potential triggers I mentioned in this review bother you, I'd highly recommend you check this one out. I have to say the past week's reviews have convinced me that I need to read a hell of a lot more Matheson! If you're looking for a good ghost story, then here it is. Pour yourself a tall glass of orange juice, turn off the lights, and give Stir of Echoes a whirl.