DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Stir of Echoes (New Special Edition)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Aug 16, 2004.

Tags:
  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    243
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
    [​IMG]


    Stir of Echoes


    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Studio: Lions Gate
    Year: 1999
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 98 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 6.1 EX, DD Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Retail Price: $19.95




    Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) has just been informed by his wife (Kathryn Erbe) that she’s pregnant with their second child. This here comes at a bad time because Tom was wanting to take some time off work so that he could work with his band but this news means more overtime and a hold on his music dreams. Tom tells his wife that he never wanted to be famous but then again, he never expected to be so ordinary. Later in the night he goes to a party where his sister in law (Illeana Douglas) brings up the subject of hypnosis.

    Tom has never believed in anything dealing with the supernatural but as a dare, he agrees to go under. A few minutes later he snaps out of a trance with a headache and he can’t remember what went on. The partygoers have to tell Tom that he was reliving his childhood as well as saying other strange things that they didn’t understand. Later that night Tom begins suffering from worse headaches and that’s when he also starts to see a young woman. This young woman is in the form of a ghost and it’s apparent she wants Tom to find out what happened to her. The wife doesn’t buy into this but their young son happens to share the same link as his father.

    In 1999 we got three ghost films, two of which were huge hits in The Blair Witch Project, which opened in July followed the next month by The Sixth Sense. With all the hype going towards those two films, Stir of Echoes, which opened in September, died a pretty quick death at the box office and sadly not too many people saw the film. Those who did certainly couldn’t talk it into conversations considering all the buzz of the other two films. As it stands, 1999 gave us three great films dealing with ghosts and Stir of Echoes certainly deserves its place as one of the better ghost film.

    Director David Koepp does a very good job at keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat and creates some wonderfully tense scenes that would challenge the previously mentioned films. This movie, unlike the other two, tries to be a lot more psychological and the film takes a very serious look at the supernatural and the powers of hypnosis. The film also does a very good job at showing Bacon’s character as a non-believer who quickly learns that this stuff isn’t something to mess around with in a jokingly manor. Right before we see him go under the hypnosis there’s a very good segment with Bacon and his friends downplaying the power. The actual hypnosis scene also works very well and helps the viewer get inside Bacon’s head as he’s about to enter another world.

    Going into a film like this viewers are wanting and expecting tense scares and the director once again delivers here. You can clearly see that the film is heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as both films deal with a kid noticing the ghosts only to have the father get more involved in the subject. Like Kubrick, the director tries very hard to create an atmosphere of dread that will continue to get worse as the film goes on. Also like The Shining, this film likes the scare the viewer with the ghost popping up in all sorts of places and the director takes the simple approach of the ghost just appearing instead of it jumping out and trying to gather fake scares.

    What really holds the film together however is the performance from Kevin Bacon who in my opinion is one of the best character actors out there. With Bacon involved you know he’s going to keep you interested in the film but here he goes a step further and turns in what’s probably his best work to date. There’s a wonderful moment late in the film when his digging up the yard searching for a body where he, for the first time in his marriage, starts screaming at his wife. Most actors would have gone over the top but Bacon instead goes for something more realistic. We certainly don’t hate him for attacking his wife because we understand what he’s going through. We’ve seen his character transform in front of our eyes and we know this outburst is just a side effect of something bigger going on. Kathryn Erbe does a nice job in the wife’s role, which is a little more full than what’s typically seen in this type of film.

    The film however takes a very disastrous turn in its final act. I haven’t had too much time to think about it but this could very well be one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen in a horror film and trust me, I’ve seen a lot. For starters, the mystery of who the ghost is and what she wants is very easy to figure out. I discovered what the mystery was around the forty-five minute mark but I overlooked this because the film was still taking me on a tense ride. In the third act Bacon receives orders to start digging and for a good fifteen minutes we see him doing nothing but digging. In fact, he pretty much digs up the entire house, which wasn’t really needed. We know he’s going to find something so the director should have let him found it sooner rather than carrying out some suspense when we already know what’s going to happen.

    The biggest problem is what actually happens after the digging, which I certainly won’t spoil here. I know what was behind the ghost but the way it plays out is so incredibly bad that I nearly shut the movie off not wanting to ruin the previous eighty-minutes of suspense. Stir of Echoes is still a very good movie but I really wish some more thought had gone into the ending. The entire film deals with the less is more theory but the ending is just too over the top. While this film will never get the reputation of The Blair Witch Project or The Sixth Sense, those wanting a good scare should certainly check it out.


    VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. I had never seen this movie before so I rented the previous DVD to compare the two but that rental was scratched beyond hell so I had a hard time viewing it because of the picture breaking up. I was able to compare a few scenes and from what I could tell there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the two. Without giving both a full autopsy I’d say these are the exact same transfers. The transfer itself is very good for the most part, although there are a few weak spots here and there.

    The colors are rich and full of detail without any sorts of bleeding. The film uses a lot of various colors to show off various scenes from a blue-ish tint in the streets to a white toned encounter with the ghost. Red tents are also used to show Bacon’s psychic ability and these look very well without the bleeding. Contrast levels are near perfect especially in the white tented scenes and especially the hypnosis scene that Bacon goes on. A lot of the film takes place in the dark so thankfully the black levels are also very strong. Some minor edge enhancement can be seen but I doubt this will be noticeable on smaller sets.

    AUDIO---We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which appears to be the same as the previous disc. As an added bonus we get a new DTS 6.1 ES track. I compared various scenes and I’m sorry but I couldn’t tell that much of a difference. Sometimes I think DTS tracks on thrown on certain discs to appease DTS fans but the tracks rarely add too much extra. Both tracks feature clear dialogue that is up front and clear without any sorts of issues. The main feature to both tracks is the use of the Surrounds, which perfectly captures various sound effects that help pull you into the film. When the film opens there’s some wind blowing with a ghostly voice and this is a real standout. The Surrounds are also perfectly mixed during the flashback scene, which takes full advantage of swinging the action from the left to right speakers with added effects in the rear. The DTS track does benefit from a little more crystal clear sound when it comes to some voices whispering as well as the gunshots at the end of the movie.

    EXTRAS---The real added bonus to this new Special Edition are the extras, some of which are ported over from the previous release but most are new.

    Commentary---The commentary track with the director is the same as the previous disc and it’s highly worth listening to especially if you’re a horror fan. The director goes into great detail about the making of the film including what his influences were and how Brian DePalma helped director a few scenes in the movie. There’s a lot of references to older ghost films, which are interesting to hear. There’s several good stories told about the cast and the director appears to be very honest with his opinions.

    Making Of: Behind the Echoes---This featurette runs just over twenty-one minutes and is rather interesting if you enjoyed the film, although there’s nothing groundbreaking here. Once again we hear about the screenplay being written and how the director wanted it to end up on the screen. Everything from pre-production to the final project are covered with interviews with the director.

    The Mind’s Eye: Beneath the Trance---This is a ten-minute promotional piece that features interviews with the director, Bacon and Douglas. Novelist Richard Matheson is also on hand being interviewed and he basically discusses the myths and legend behind hypnosis.

    Sight of Spirits: Channeling the Paranormal---This here is another promotional piece running just over ten minutes. Here Dr. Larry Montz talks about the psychology of hypnosis and how it is used and how it shouldn’t be used. The most interesting stuff here is some footage of a real hypnosis.

    Special Effects---This here runs just over three minutes and really isn’t too interesting. The big talk is creating the ghost and how they should look. They mention previous films that used ghosts but the short running time keeps from anything interesting being discussed.

    Production Design---This here is a useless, four minute segment that talks about (duh) the production design yet it never talks about the design of anything. I’m not sure what the point of this was.

    Deleted Scenes---Three deleted scenes are included, all three are shown widescreen but the quality is a bit below the actual film. The first deleted scene, Is It a Girl is an extended scene of when Bacon discovers his shares powers with his son. This is actually a very nice scene but it was probably a good idea to cut it. Samantha’s In the Basement
    is another extended scene where the mom goes downstairs to check the water heater. I’m Supposed to Dig is yet another extended section dealing with the digging. Very thankful that this was cut out of the film.

    Behind the Scenes: Final Shot Comparisons---This is a very interesting section that should show up on more discs. In this section there are four scenes highlighted and when you pick one we get to see the actors/director preparing for the scene. After that we get to see them acting it out and then we see how the scene actually looked in the finished project. This section really gives you a wonderful idea of what it’s like being on a movie set.

    Screen Test Clips---This here is broken into three sections, one dealing with the look of the ghost, another with the look of Tom and the final with the look of Maggie. There here really isn’t anything too interesting but if you must watch every extra, go ahead with this one too.

    Finally we get a music video by Moist for “Breathe”. I couldn’t locate a theatrical trailer or trailers for other Lions Gate releases, which is usually on all their titles. I’m not sure if these are hidden as easter eggs but they certainly aren’t on the menu.

    OVERALL---Outside the disaster of an ending, this is a very well made and acted film that deserves a bigger fan base. From what I saw of the previous disc it appears the video transfer is the same but we do get a new DTS track, which offers a somewhat better sound. The extras are the main reason to upgrade and I’d say they’re certainly worth it if you enjoy the film. With a low retail price it should make the double dip reasonable.


    Release Date: August 17th, 2004
     
  2. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    4,044
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    110

    Are any of us horror films?
     
  3. Jeannette Walsh

    Jeannette Walsh Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2004
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Stir of Echoes gets played a lot in my house. Very good all round spooker. I've always been pleased with the original version and as the supplementals don't look too enticing I think I'll skip this one but if will be nice for those who haven't bought it yet. Check out the car ride at the end and the voices that swirl around the speakers, so cool.

    The only thing that really bugged me about the original DVD is it's one of those that takes forever to get to the menu screen so you can select something.
     
  4. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2001
    Messages:
    1,827
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Love the movie but the suppliments here aren't intersting enough to warrent a double dip from me, I'm afraid.

    -paul
     
  5. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    3,577
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    110
    Excellent film, and quite better than the good, but rather overrated Sixth Sense which it often gets compared to. Its a shame it wasn't a bigger hit. I'll be double dipping. I can sell off my old version easily.
     
  6. Jamie Cole

    Jamie Cole Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 1999
    Messages:
    211
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    110
    One of the most popular misconceptions of this film and the story behind it is that it was "influenced" by The Shining, The Dead Zone, etc. Some critics even called it a Sixth Sense clone, which is as wrong as wrong can be.

    I don't see ANY similarity in filmmaking style to Kubrick's The Shining, although the story has some similar overtones. But this is because Stephen King was influenced by Stir of Echoes, not the other way around. This film is based on a novel by Richard Matheson that has been around since the 50s.

    The movie differs a good deal from the book, so if you want a good, atmospheric murder mystery with a supernatural twist, I'd recommend the book highly. But make no mistake: there's a reason many horror and scifi authors and filmmakers list Matheson as an influence: most of them have ripped him off at one time or another.

    I'm also in the minority that thinks this is a better film than Sixth Sense. I'll say this: I've rewatched Stir of Echoes many times, and Sixth Sense holds nothing for me outside its much-hyped twist ending. I even think the performances of the child actor in Stir of Echoes is as good as HJ Osment's in Sense.
     
  7. Paul_Stachniak

    Paul_Stachniak Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I got very excited about this SE when I heard about it; I believe that Stir of Echoes is one of the most under appreciated horror films on the last decade. It's an excellent film, and well worth this DVD.

    I must also disagree about the ending; I thought it was quite good - but to each his own. If you haven't seen this film, please give it a chance.
     
  8. John_McKittrick

    John_McKittrick Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 1999
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There was nothing wrong with the ending at all. The movie was just out there, but very good.

    John
     
  9. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    243
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
  10. Scott Burke

    Scott Burke Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2000
    Messages:
    488
    Likes Received:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    110
    Location:
    United States
    Real Name:
    Scott B.
    I would also chime in and say this movie is highly rewatchable. I have watched it many times more than sixth sense. I also disagree about the ending. It was fine. This movie gives me goosebumps everytime I watch it. However, I won't be double dipping.
     
  11. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2001
    Messages:
    1,085
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree with eveyrone here. I always enjoyed this movie much more than the Sixth Sense. I already own the original DVD but dont think this new release has any real incentive for me to double-dip. I'll save my money for this fall! [​IMG]
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    10,329
    Likes Received:
    7,412
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    An interesting note, which I'll mention before viewing the new release.

    It appears that either deluxe laboratories, which seems to have done the release printing, or Astro Video Services in Chicago, a facility unknown to me, which may have processed dailies for the film, did damage to the original negative.

    According to the jacket notes, the film had to be digitally restored before its release to video.

    Hopefully whichever facility damaged the film elements was made to foot the digital bills.

    Pity.

    RAH
     
  13. Chris Tedesco

    Chris Tedesco Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2002
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great movie and yes Kevin Bacon held this movie together. Man, I couldn't believe it when the original DVD was on Sale at Circuit City for 4.99 about a year and a half ago.

    Great movie and good sound and video.
     
  14. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2000
    Messages:
    5,172
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    While I agree that the viewer will see the ending coming from miles away I didn't mind at all as the film was so damn good on all fronts, direction, acting, script, music, that I was with it right to the end.

    Outstanding film that at the very least is the equal to The Sixth Sense and quite a bit better in many aspects, I'll buy.
     
  15. Steve Bjorg

    Steve Bjorg Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For those who care, the Stir of Echoes is also available on DVHS. Definitively an underrated movie.
     
  16. Martin_T

    Martin_T Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Stir Of Echoes is a very good movie. I easily like it as much as Sixth Sense.

    However, the extras on this one do not make it worth a double dip for me, especially with all of the stuff coming up thise fall! [​IMG]
     
  17. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2001
    Messages:
    2,968
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Add me in the camp that liked Stir of Echos more than Sixth Sense. I liked both but SoE has more rewatchability IMO.

    I never had a problem with the ending or the constant digging. Sure we knew what he was going to find, but we had no idea where or when that would be. And when he did I still got chills. I still gasp at the gunshot up through the bed and pillow.


    Too bad more people didn't get to experience the hypnosis scene in an actual theatre. That was a nice touch.

    Won't be double dipping though. Nothing really new worth paying for again.

    A must buy for anyone that doesn't have it though.
     
  18. Michael J K

    Michael J K Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good movie, and I like the use of the Chicago locations.

    The part that really gets me is the

    Breaking off of the finger nail! I can't watch it!
     
  19. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Messages:
    2,793
    Likes Received:
    152
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Toronto area, Canada
    Real Name:
    Craig
    A minor question re the packaging: anybody notice any issues with the transparent slipcover? Mine came badly shrinkwrapped such that the slip was very crumpled, and it's way larger than the keepcase, very loose. Why I ask is, this is the U.S. version I ordered online and I'm trying to decide if it's worth trying to get a better one, if this is an isolated "defect". Yeah, the packaging isn't that important to me, but I do like to keep my DVDs in like new condition and would have rejected this package in person (unusual that amazon sent this, their stuff is usually pristine IME). Thanks.
     
  20. Paul_Stachniak

    Paul_Stachniak Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    Messages:
    1,303
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ^Mine came the same way too. What do you except, Amazon (and I'm only assuming you got it through Amazon) stuff single or double DVDs into those horrible mailbox sized boxes, which aren't made to fit extra packaging over the DVD keep case, so yeah some folds happen. At the end of the day, mine still looks fine - and I'm glad there is no French and the exclusion of whatever Alliance decided to drop this time.
     

Share This Page