David Koepp adapted this script from the novel by Richard Matheson. Koepp also directs this film, which stars Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Zachary David Cope and Illeana Douglas. It’s about a young boy who sees dead people. Please hear me out.
Jake Whitzky (Cope) is a young boy who’s “got the eyes on him”. His father, Tom (Bacon), after goofing around with hypnosis at a party, has his eyes opened, too – but only slightly. Tom sets out to decode his dreams and visions, then realizes that his son knows many of the answers he’s searching for. Tom’s wife Maggie (Erbe) is skeptical, then becomes scared when Tom’s obsession in solving his mysteries makes him lose interest in going to work and even showering. Tom’s mind begins to play tricks on him; or maybe it’s just hinting at answers to his riddles. When Tom uncovers the truth, he realizes that his obsession has put his entire family in danger and he must reassess what is truly important in order to save himself, his family and a forgotten runaway.
This film was overshadowed by The Sixth Sense, which was released the same year. While M. Night Shyamalan is obviously a writer/director who deserves respect, I think that Stir of Echoes is a more gripping tale. It’s not merely a mystery as The Sixth Sense really is. The twists and turns in Stir of Echoes are revealed through Tom’s dreams in a way that is cinematically admirable, rather than a simple “Gotcha” at the end.
This is one of my favorite Bacon roles. I think little Zachary David Cope deserves some recognition for his work here, too. Unfortunately, other than a bit part in The Wedding Singer, you can’t find much more of him. This film was released in 1999, so I’d love to find out what kind of actor this young man has turned out to be. He was, by the way, nominated for a Young Artists Award for his performance in this film.
If you are under the impression that this film is too much like The Sixth Sense to warrant your time – think again. It is not the same film by any means. Most importantly, Keopp gives you a haunting air that will stick with you. I slept with the light on :)