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STIR OF ECHOES ($15) is a well made and very entertaining supernatural thriller based upon the novel by Richard Matheson, an author who has contributed quite a bit to the genre. As a screenwriter, Mathesonís body of work includes episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, as well as THE NIGHT STALKER, THE NIGHT STRANGLER and DUEL TV movies, plus the AIP Poe films FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER and PIT AND THE PENDULUM. As a novelist, Matheson has written books such as "The Shrinking Man," "I Am Legend" and "Bid Time Return" which have been turned into motion pictures (although with varying degrees of success).

STIR OF ECHOES stars Kevin Bacon as Tom Witzky, an ordinary working class guy, who finds his existence radically altered after being hypnotized by his sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas). A posthypnotic suggestion intended to make Tom more open-minded, opens his mind to things that average people never experience. Suddenly, Tom has premonitions and troubling visions of a dead girl who appears to have been murdered in his house. As the visions of the girlís murder become more intense and more complete, Tom finds himself driven to uncover the truth before he looses his mind. The plot of STIR OF ECHOES is somewhat predictable, but writer/director David Koepp has made the film visually interesting and has paced to story to maintain a sense of tension throughout. Also, as with any good ghost story, STIR OF ECHOES provides a number of well timed jolts. The cast of STIR OF ECHOES also includes Kathryn Erbe, Liza Weil, Kevin Dunn, Conor O'Farrell, Jennifer Morrison, Zachary David Cope, Lisa Lewis, and Eddie Bo Smith Jr.

Artisan Home Entertainment has made STIR OF ECHOES available on DVD in a presentation that the packaging refers to as 16:9 Fullscreen. My best guess would be that 16:9 Fullscreen is an anamorphic enhanced transfer framed at 1.78:1. Since the difference between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 is almost negligible, I would have to say that STIR OF ECHOES wide screen framing is correct. Anyway, the presentation is indeed enhanced for 16:9 playback, in case anyone still has some doubt. Artisanís transfer is wonderful, perfectly transcribing every scene to video, including those with very low lighting. The image is consistently sharp and highly detailed, even within the darker recesses of the image, which there are many in this film. Color reproduction is super, with all of the highly saturated hues being rendered without any distortion or bleeding of the most intense colors. Additionally, flesh tones are highly realistic. Blacks are a perfect pitch black and the image boasts excellent contrast under all lighting conditions. There is no appreciable evidence of digital compression artifacts on this well authored, dual layered DVD.

STIR OF ECHOES features a fantastic Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix that really draws one into to the supernatural world of the film. This highly atmospheric mix does subtle sound effect placement really well, making the creepiness of certain scenes even more off-putting. Channel separation is excellent across both the forward soundstage and the split surrounds. The sound designers really take advantage of the discrete nature of Dolby Digital during those moments when the hero touches the ethereal plane, having sounds to swirl around the viewer creating an otherworldly effect. Dialogue is well recorded and reproduced, with everything maintaining complete intelligibility. There is little need for the lowest octaves of the bass channel, but the track never sounds shallow.

The interactive menus are nicely designed and feature animation, sound and full motion video. Through the menus, one can access the expected scene selection feature as well as the DVDís supplements. Director David Koepp supplies a very good audio commentary that mixes both the personal and technical sides of the filmís production. Also included on the DVD are a theatrical trailer, TV spots, production notes, a brief production featurette, behind-the-scenes footage, a music video and cast biographies/filmographies with interviews.

STIR OF ECHOES is solid supernatural entertainment that horror fans are certain to want to own on this slickly produced Artisan Home Entertainment DVD. Recommended to them and anyone who likes a good scare.


Stir of Echoes (1999)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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