There exists a cinematic phenomenon known as twin films, whereby two movies with identical premises are released in the same year. Last year there was White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. 1998 gave us A Bug’s Life and Antz. And in 1999 we had The Sixth Sense and Stir of Echoes.
Based on Richard Matheson’s novel of the same godawful name, Stir of Echoes stars Kevin Bacon from off of those Kevin Bacon adverts. He plays a blue-collar worker in a Chicago neighbourhood, whose son – get this – sees dead people. Kevin Bacon is hypnotised, for plot reasons, and he too goes all Haley Joel Osment. Haunted by the ghost of a young girl, Kevin Bacon becomes unstable and obsessed, Close Encounters-style.
Kevin Bacon is great as ever, and helps to ground the supernatural plot with his everyman likability. This blue-collar setting provides a crucial sense of reality, bringing the traditionally grandiose ghost story to a working class community. The visuals and editing provide a couple of effectively squeamish moments, and the mystery keeps you guessing. Or at least it kept me guessing, but then I am quite thick. There are a lot of familiar horror techniques but they’re not the movie’s be all and end all, as they are in James Wan’s recent efforts.
There are some pretty dumb moments which don’t really work, and Stir of Echoes is such a terrible title they might as well have called it Whisk of Murmurs. The kid is badly played but it is probably unfair to compare him to Haley Joel Osment, and the film sits cross-legged and sulking in the shadow of The Sixth Sense. But with its interesting setting, technical ability and Kevin Bacon, Whisk of Murmurs is a perfectly decent horror film.