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Stir of Echoes

Of all the little boys talking to dead people, this one has the hippest parents

The Stir of Echoes Web site comes complete with a section of mind-opening exercises. Do you think that Kevin Bacon read a few books on mind expansion before shooting this scary, albeit mediocre plot twister? No ma'am. What he did do was pump a lot of iron, slap on a few tattoos, acquire Hollywood's cracked-out skinny aesthetic, and pull out his old wifebeaters from his Footloose rehearsal days. Yes, you do catch a glimpse of Kevin Bacon sitting on the corner of his bed playing guitar. Love your record deal, dude. The pain of watching him ratchet his head backward to pop Excedrin is just short of having your chest waxed, and his ranting fits-well, it's more than a respectable citizen should have to endure. Basically, he's filthy, and I have no love for the man.

The movie, on the other hand, is a real screamer. The director and editor have done a great job of whipping up giant meringues of suspense, worth the visit despite Kevin Bacon's bland pudding. Sure, the story is the same old murder mystery you've seen solved by Angela Lansbury, Andy Griffith, or Frances McDormand, but instead of finding the clues at the country club carving station, Kevin Bacon's Tom Witzsky and his clairvoyant son Jake (a lovely performance by weirdo cutie Zachary David Cope) find clues in - you got it - their own minds! The whole family doesn't ride off the rails, of course. Brilliant, beautiful, and tattooed Kathryn Erbe socks in the reality checks as Bacon's doubting Thomas of a wife.

When sassy ne'er do well auntie Lisa (Ileanna Douglas) hypnotizes Tom at a party, his "switch gets flipped," thus leaving him susceptible to sixth sense-type forces of this world and beyond. Though no one seems to notice that six year-old Jake has been talking to invisible dead people for the whole first half of the film, as soon as Tom comes home from the party, he begins to hallucinate and pop headache pills. He sees a ghost! A teenage girl! Ah, the mystery unfurls in a flurry of flashbacks, jackhammers, handguns, and dream sequences.

With sick shots of bloody fingernails popping right off at the quick, bloody teeth spattering out of center frame in POV shots, and a ubiquitous, creepy teen ghostie, this film certainly makes the chills sear up the spine. I'll admit it, I was clutching my friend's arm and making small whimpering noises during the scary parts. A pure cynic and film snob, he patronizingly patted my head. It was a good time. All in all, I'd recommend seeing Stir of Echoes if you're in the mood for scary fluff with a bad-assed citified edge. Set in a friendly blue-collar Chicago neighborhood of thirtysomething rock and roller families, Stir of Echoes raises one question: where the hell are Ben Stiller and Janeane Garafalo?

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Stir of Echoes
rated R
1 hour 39 minutes

Kevin Bacon
Kathryn Erbe
Illeana Douglas
Liza Weil
Kevin Dunn

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