Stir of Echoes is the perfect example of a release date blunder. One month after Sixth Sense entered pop culture canon, the Kevin Bacon vehicle Echoes was pushed into theaters, and immediately rejected by audiences for its startling similarities, even though it’s based on a novel from 1958. It’s just poor timing, which is a shame considering Echoes is just as entertaining and effective as M. Night Shyamalan’s debut.
There’s no question a viewer unaware of the original story would fail to grasp how this wasn’t a cheap knock-off. A child can see dead people. That’s one of the centerpieces of the plot for Stir of Echoes. It’s every bit as creepy as Sixth Sense as well, even though the kid is younger and can’t quite turn in the performance.
The kid may start things off, but it’s Kevin Bacon’s character, Tom Witzky, who takes over. After being put into a trance, he begins to have strange visions of a dead girl who is trying to tell him something. Bacon is completely believable as Witzky, adding both a sense of comedy as he realizes how absurd this all is to a true emotional breakdown when things don’t go his way. It affects his family and the relationship with his wife, but he’s an average guy who firmly believes he’s found his purpose.
The mystery isn’t that strong, and a plot point about halfway through makes it obvious as to what happened to the girl Witzky is looking for. Direction from David Koepp doesn’t have the edge in style either compared to Shyamalan’s work, but does deliver some effective creep-outs and scares. Stir of Echoes is well worth a look if you know what came first and can ignore the obvious similarities.
With a video transfer like this, Stir of Echoes has no business being on Blu-ray. This is, in blatant terms, a garbage transfer. Colors are oversaturated to the point of bleeding. The look is overly soft, flat, and bland. There is little or no noticeable detail in any shot. Compression artifacts creep in on solid colors, and noise can be a problem in a few shots. Flesh tones tend to head into orange territory. This doesn’t even look like the resolution has a benefit to this presentation.
A DTS-HD Master 6.1 mix is rarely put to use in the film. There are a few small moments of surround use, including outside prior to a high school football game and some voices that swivel around the viewer. Bass is hardly noticeable except for some loud scares. A jackhammer used by Witzky should have sent the LFE to work, but it remains flat.
A commentary begins a meager set of extras, this one from director Koepp. Sight of Spirits looks at the “job” of parapsychology for 10 minutes. Around five minutes of deleted scenes are all that remains. There are no features, aside from the commentary, that deliver behind-the-scenes details, which is a shame.