Stir of Echoes Review

Colin Polonowski has reviewed the Region 1 DVD release of Stir of Echoes

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I ordered this disc. I had not heard of the film before and I didn’t really have any idea what it was about. In fact, I would have probably completely overlooked it if it wasn’t for a recommendation on the forum.

Stir of Echoes is a great example of how under-hyped films really do match or even outperform their much more highly hyped competition. While I haven’t seen Stir of Echoes in the UK cinema, in the US it was released at the same time as the highly rated Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense and I don’t think anyone could argue with me when I say there are some similarities.

The most obvious similarity is that both movies feature a child who can see the dead, however they both tackle the subject material in different ways. While The Sixth Sense takes the more sedate route throwing in plenty of shocks, Stir of Echoes focuses on Kevin Bacons character who is hypnotised and as a result is open to all sorts of supernatural phenomenon.

Thankfully, both films succeed in creating a remarkably believeable (given the subject matter) plot and both offer plenty for you to come back to. Kevin Bacon puts in a great performance of the reluctant believer. The only real criticism as far as the film is concerned is that there are a few small inconsistencies and the initial plot set-up feels slightly rushed.

Artisan really do know what makes a good DVD. After a few initial disappointing releases they really have found their feet and as they proved with The Blair Witch Project they certainly place their presentation high up the list of what to spend time working on. Stir of Echoes relies heavily on its soundtrack and the DVD doesn’t disappoint. There are plenty of auditory shocks and with the volume up loud you will certainly jump at times! The sound field generated by the DD5.1 soundtrack is deep and effect-placement is spot on.

The main feature is presented at an aspect-ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for widescreen televisions. Stir of Echoes features a lot of dark scenes and some earlier DVD releases have had trouble resolving the detail in these scenes. In this case, the transfer is near perfect. The dark scenes have plenty of depth and outdoor scenes really do show of the sorts of vivid colour the DVD format handles with ease. There are no digital artifacts and the source print is near perfect with only a few specks present early on. The only real criticism I have of the overall presentation is that the picture may be a little soft.

With the three most important aspects of any DVD release already making this a superb example of what DVD is capable of you could excuse Artisan if they skimped on the extras. Well, they haven’t and while we haven’t got a disc with the same quantity or quality of extras as the best from Criterion or New Line, Artisan don’t disappoint.

While the disc features the usual trailers and behind-the-scenes footage which should be standard on any DVD release, what really lifts this disc above the competition is a genuinely interesting directors commentary which sheds quite a lot of light on the movie and is well worth listening to at some point.

On top of this, we also have a music video and featurette which nicely rounds of an impressive package. Considering the weakest aspect of the overall disc is the film itself, and that the film could not in an way be described as anything other than good, it’s not hard to see that this disc is certainly worth a look.

Oh, and if that last sentence didn’t confuse you nothing will!

Colin Polonowski

Updated: Feb 27, 1999

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