Stir of Echoes (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Here's the answer to your cultural IQ test for today. Steven King is to Richard Matheson as The Shining is to .... ???????

I guess if not for Big Steve, Matheson would be the most famous writer of ... whatever the hell that stuff is called. Supernatural fiction, I guess.

Actually it's a shame that this movie came out in competition with "Sixth Sense" because - well, it's a good movie about a child who talks to the dead, but it's not as good as "Sixth Sense." Even if it were just as good, how many consecutive movies will you watch about children talking to the dead?

Kevin Bacon also talks to the dead in this movie, which must have reminded him of his work on "Search for Tomorrow." The dead, however, are kind of picky and do not talk back to Kevin, but only to the kid. Now that I think about it, anyone can talk to the dead. It isn't really that impressive until they respond. Personally, I have never been able to communicate with the dead. The one time I tried a Ouija board, it was possessed by the spirit of Bob Eubanks, who was still alive. Instead of giving answers about life's mysteries, it would ask embarrassing personal questions and give lovely prizes to the winning answers. But I suppose even if you did make contact with the dead, there would be some long pauses in the conversation. "So, Benedict Arnold, um, what about those Lakers, eh?" I guess you could ask them if they also love Raymond.

Oh, yeah, back to the point ...

Relative to Sixth Sense, this movie ended up like a little kid with his hand up in the back of the room, saying, "Teacher, teacher, I see dead people, too." It came out in early September of 1999, about a month after The Sixth Sense, which was a box office phenomenon. As if that weren't enough of a hurdle to clear, Stir of Echoes happened to be released the very same week as Stigmata, another heavily-marketed supernatural thriller. Stigmata took the #1 spot that week with about $18 million, barely ousting The Sixth Sense from the spot it had held for more than a month. The Sixth Sense was still a strong second with $16 million. Stir of Echoes did manage to finish third, but was far behind the two leaders, with only $6 million. It dropped only 32% in its second week, which was a sign that it had some good word of mouth, but it had simply started too slowly in a field which was too crowded, so it finished with a mere $21 million.

But it's a good movie. I only have two complaints about the flick:

  • There is a set-up scene early in the movie in which Kevin sees his neighbor in the living room in an episode of precognition, and this is followed immediately by Bacon seeing his neighbor's son shoot himself, first implied in his trance, then for real. As soon as I saw this scene, which had no relationship to the plot development before that point, and therefore must have been there for some reason, I immediately figured out the rest of the plot, and that sort of spoiled it for me.
  • There is a direct rip-off from The Shining which serves no purpose. As in The Shining, the boy's gift to communicate with the dead is far more developed than the father's (Bacon in this case), and as in The Shining there is a compassionate black man who can also communicate with to the dead, and who knows that the boy can do so. Scatman's character was integral to the plot of The Shining, but in this movie the copycat character seems to be completely supererogatory.

Bottom line: it's kind of a derivative movie that isn't as good as its spiritual father (The Shining) or its spiritual big brother (The Sixth Sense), but it's still a good ghost yarn, and deserved better than it got.



  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.78:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • Making-of featurette

  • The usual bios, trailers, tv ads, and a music video


Kathryn Erbe was seen naked from the rear in the bathroom, clearly lit.

In addition, her breasts were seen in a dark sex scene.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 77.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.3, Apollo users a very impressive 85/100. These scores are consistent with the critical consensus.
  • With their dollars ... it wasn't a smash, hit, but it took in $21 million domestic on a $13 million budget. It maxed out at just less than 2000 screens. It was really kind of an underperformer when you consider the positive reception from critics and moviegoers.

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