I went into this weekend with a heavy sense of dread, knowing I had to see "Stir of Echoes," "Stigmata," or "Love Stinks." Weekends like this, I would rather have my hand shredded while rebuilding a Cruise-o-Matic transmission than go to the movies. Because I did not want to suffer alone, I talked my pal Slappy into joining me to see the thriller "Stir of Echoes," and I did find it shocking, mainly because it didn't suck smelly ass.
Kevin Bacon tries very hard to play a working-class Chicago guy. He's got a creepy little kid, Kevin Dunn, who talks to invisible people. Bacon and his wife, the somewhat skanky Kathryn Erbe, go to a party where Bacon gets drunk and is hypnotized by his wife's "wacky" friend, Illeana Douglas. When he awakes from the hypnosis, he can see ghosts. Actually, he's always been able to see ghosts, but he blocked them out. While under hypnosis, Douglas suggests he be more open, and it has opened his mind to everything, including creepy ghosts. It turns out his son can also see ghosts, a gift he inherited from Bacon.
The house Bacon and his wife rent is inhabited by the ghost of a young girl who will not leave until Bacon solves the mystery of who killed her. Bacon becomes obsessed with ridding himself of this ghost, and from then on, the story stops being creepy and starts being a pretty lame and obvious mystery.
First, let me say that after seeing the shit Bacon goes through, I am glad I didn't get on stage with Dr. Naughty, the X-rated Hypnotist, at the Chuckle Bones Comedy Club last Wednesday night, like Mrs. Filthy wanted. She wanted me to take off my pants in front of everyone because that's the kind of shit she finds funny. Sure, I had put away a few Mickey's Big Mouths, but I knew that hypno-crap is bad news and I resisted. Actually, I made a big fucking scene when Dr. Naughty grabbed my arm, and we ended up rassling on the floor, but that's a story for another time.
The whole premise of "Stir of Echoes," that a child and adult can see ghosts who breathe frosted air and need help from the living, might be a little familiar to people who have gone to the movies this summer, but you can't blame writer/director David Koepp. There is no way this movie was made to capitalize on the "Sixth Sense." No, the shitty ripoffs of that flick won't be out until next year. So, give Koepp credit for independently coming up with a good idea, but take away points for doing less with it, and feeling like he needed to explain everything because we're all so God-damned stupid.
The first half of this movie moves along quickly, and it carries a few genuine scares. I could handle them, but Slappy kept grabbing my arm because he's a big fucking pussy. Once you get past the idiotic premise that Bacon can see ghosts simply because Douglas tells him to be more open, you get to see some cool stuff. Bacon yanks one of his teeth out after finding it bleeding. A panicked girl digs her hand into a hardwood floor so hard that an entire fingernail breaks off and all this blood and flesh splatter. Bacon and his son wander in and out of a ghostly world, talking to a pasty, frozen girl, and he finally digs up her corpse in his own basement.
Right at the midpoint of "Stir of Echoes," though, the movie starts to go sour. Koepp assumes that we're all fucking retards, so he inexplicably inserts a Chicago policeman, Officer Exposition, to explain the story for us. Yeah, we know already, we've been watching for the last hour. Then, he lays out the "mystery" so obviously that he might as well have had Officer Exposition come back and explain some more. Who killed the girl? How can Bacon make her ghost rest in peace? Gee, could it be the people who act sort of weird when Bacon asks them questions earlier? Gee, could it possibly be the most obvious people? Oh, gee, will the wife get back to the house in time to save Bacon? The two teenage boys, by being the last fucking person in the theater to figure it out, yes, yes, and yes.
By the last ten minutes, the movie just gives up. Koepp acts like the boyfriend that comes prematurely. He's shot his wad, but he knows he better stick around a while just to make sure you don't feel ripped-off. As a result, the movie ends flat and thrill-less as Bacon tries to escape the girl's killers in a paint-by-numbers climax that features a man who kills himself - but wait! - he doesn't! I have no way how Koepp can explain that, except that since he assumes we are brain-dead shits that we wouldn't notice. Do not construe from this that your pal Filthy has any first-hand knowledge of premature ejaculation. I'm just repeating what I hear around the garage.
Bacon works really hard to make us believe he's blue-collar. A little less gruff talk would have been more convincing. He's like a friend who tries really hard to look sober so you'll let him drive home. The harder he tries, the less convincing he is. Kathryn Erbe might be acting her heart out, but I can't tell. She's just pretty average and I couldn't stop trying to figure out if she has big ugly tattoos on her stomach. Illeana Douglas has now officially used up her life's quota of playing the "wacky," but ultimately knowing, friend. That's all she ever plays, and they always give her flat, stupid lines to illustrate that she's nuttier than squirrel shit. But here, like always, it comes off as undercooked.
Three fingers for "Stir of Echoes." I applaud
it for not totally sucking, but I'm disappointed that Hollywood
thinks we're so stupid that we need everything explained to us.
Also, one finger for Slappy
for sucking so bad at shuffleboard afterward.