The setting is working class Chicago. Kevin Bacon and wife Kathryn Erbe have a secondchild on the way, which means all kinds of financial pressures (and goodbye to whateverremained of his rock & roll dream). Bacon’s problems are just getting started, though. In thewake of being hypnotized by sister-in-law Illeana Douglas, Bacon starts seeing the ghost of ayoung woman (a ghost his young son has been seeing for some time), and he becomes obsessedwith finding out who she is.>
Stir of Echoes was unjustly overshadowed at the time of its initial release by the hugesuccess of The Sixth Sense. Good as Shyamalan’s film is, David Koepp’s ghost tale is farmore terrifying, more grounded, and doesn’t resort to The Sixth Sense’s clichéd twistending. Smart and scary as hell, this is the perfect movie for a creepy Halloween night.
The initial DVD release had a 5.1 track. Now the options are 6.1 DTS ES and 5.1 EX. Stepsup, certainly, at least on paper, but the actual differences are undetectable to my ears. This isn’t tosay the sound is bad — it’s great, and always was, with deeply sinister surround whispers andandrenaline-boosting music cues attacking from all sides..
The “digitally restored” widescreen picture isn’t detectably different from the previoustransfer (only now it is now referred to inaccurately and confusingly as and “enhanced”fullscreen version — it was always anamorphic widescreen). There is some very minor grain, butthe contrasts, colours, and very deep blacks are excellent, and the image is sharp.
The commentary track (by writer/director Koepp) is the same as on the last release, but it wasa very strong one then, so who’s complaining. Most of the differences between the two editionscome down an extra load of featurettes here. “Behind the Echoes” is a 21-minute making-of,which is pretty solid as these things go. “The Mind’s Eye: Beneath the Trance” is a 10-minutelook at hypnosis (with input from Richard Matheson, on whose novel the film is based). “Sightof Spirits: Channeling the Supernatural” is completely straight-faced (and therefore wingnutty)look at contacting the beyond. Special effects and production design each get mini-featurettes(under four minutes long). There are 3 deleted scenes, 3 screen test clips of character make-up,the video for “Breathe” by Moist (which was also on the original release), and behind-the-scenes/final shot comparisons for four scenes. The menu, fully animated and scored, is thecreepiest one I’ve seen since The Exorcist, but is so over the top in its spookiness that itis a bit hard to navigate.
Not a radical change from the original edition, so probably not worth a second purchase. Butmost definitely worth a first.
Special Features List
- “Behind the Echoes” Making-of Featurette
- “Sight of Spirits: Channeling the Supernatural” Featurette
- “The Mind
- Special FX and Production Design Featurettes
- Deleted Scenes
- Behind-the-Scenes/Final Cut Comparisons
- Screen Test Clips
- “Breathe” Video by Moist