A man is hypnotized at a party by his sister-in law. He soon has visions and dreams of a ghost of a girl. Trying to avoid this, nearly pushes him to brink of insanity as the ghost wants something from him - to find out how she died. The only way he can get his life back is finding out the truth behind her death. The more he digs, the more he lets her in, the shocking truth behind her death puts his whole family in danger.
I have always admired and marveled at Kevin Bacon's versatility as an actor. From the likable fish-out-of-water guy who trips the light-fantastic through a piece of fluff like FOOTLOOSE, to putting everything on the line to play a pedophile in the unnerving THE WOODSMAN, there's hardly anything he can't - or won't do - to show his amazing range.
That being said, STIR OF ECHOES still holds what is for me one of his all-time Top Five performances.
He plays Tom Witzky, a regular mug living with his family in a working-class suburb of Chicago. Though he loves his family, hotter-than-hot wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and precocious son Jake (Zachary David Cope), he's also a man becoming bored with his life. He wants to do and be something more than who and what he is.
Obviously, the old adage "be careful what you wish for" went right over Tom's head.
At a party for family and friends, Tom volunteers to be hypnotized by his flaky sister-in-law, Lisa (the always excellent Illeana Douglas), who makes a powerful suggestion to Tom that his mind takes literally. What happens next will change his life and everyone's around him forever.
A 'doorway' has been opened inside Tom's head that allows him to communicate with the dead, and for them to reach out and touch him...whether he wants to or not. When the "nightmares" that he's been having begin to intensify, Tom knows he must find a way to close that doorway for good before he loses his family...and his sanity. The urgency is heightened when he discovers how sensitive he was before the hypnotic suggestion, in the most chilling way possible...it seems that son Jake can see and talk to the dead as well.
In the tradition of THE CHANGELING, LADY IN WHITE and THE SIXTH SENSE, the focus of Tom's visions comes from one apparition in particular, who won't leave him or his family in peace until he can figure out what it wants and why. The situation provides fodder for one intense and terrifying performance, and with help from a strong supporting cast, Bacon comes through like a champ.
When movies like this are adapted from older works by classic authors, I usually proceed with the greatest caution. But Richard Matheson's creepy novel has been skillfully transformed by David Koepp, a man who knows a little bit about balancing thoughtful plotting and dialogue with outright terror, (as in APARTMENT ZERO) and the outstanding job he does here will make you think twice the next time somebody wants to 'put you out' at a party with something more than just shots of Captain Morgan...
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