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Stir of Echoes

Original 1999 theatrical poster
Directed by David Koepp
Produced by Judy Hofflund
Gavin Polone
Written by Richard Matheson (novel)
David Koepp (screenplay)
Starring Kevin Bacon
Kathryn Erbe
Zachary David Cope
Illeana Douglas
Jennifer Morrison
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Fred Murphy
Editing by Jill Savitt
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment (USA)
20th Century Fox (non-USA)
Release date(s) September 10, 1999 (USA)
Running time 99 minutes
Language English
Budget $13,000,000
Followed by Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming

Stir of Echoes is a supernatural horror / thriller released in the United States in 1999, starring Kevin Bacon and directed by David Koepp. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Richard Matheson.



Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a typical working-class man living in Chicago with his pregnant wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and his son Jake (Zachary David Cope), and Tom likes to hang out with his friends, who include Frank McCarthy (Kevin Dunn) and Harry Damon (Conor O'Farrell).

One night at a party, Tom gets into a lively discussion with Maggie's sister Lisa (Illeana Douglas), who believes in psychic communication and the power of hypnosis. He challenges Lisa to hypnotize him, and after putting him under, Lisa plants a post-hypnotic suggestion in Tom, urging him to "be more open-minded."

The results are not quite what anyone expected; that night, Tom sees flashes of violence and the spirit of a pale young woman, Samantha Kozac (Jennifer Morrison), who disappeared from the neighborhood a few months ago. Tom panics. Maggie eventually learns that Tom is a "receiver," a person capable of communicating with the spirit world.

Jake, like his father, is also a receiver, but while Jake is calm and coherent in his conversations with Samantha, Tom is confused and agitated, lacking the ability to control his power.

While Tom and his wife are headed to a football game one night, Jake is overheard talking to "Samantha" by Jake's babysitter, Debbie Kozac (Liza Weil). Debbie gets upset, grabs Jake from the bed, and runs off with him.

Still waiting in line to get in the building, Tom is unnerved and suddenly rushes home, only to find Jake gone. He runs out of the house and experiences flashes of red that lead him and his wife to a train station where Debbie is talking to a cashier. After a confrontation at the train station, we discover that Debbie is Samantha's sister, and the cashier at the train station is her mother (Lisa Lewis).

Samantha, it turns out, was mentally handicapped; although a physically fully-developed teenager, she had the mental capacity of a child of about eight years old, and had a child's tendency to trust strangers.

Tom becomes obsessed with trying to figure out why he's seeing Samantha and what she wants from him, and even goes so far as to try and recreate their first meeting. He asks about Samantha, who used to live in the area, hoping someone could give him a clue. This attracts the attention of two teenagers -- Harry's son Kurt (Steve Rifkin) and Frank's son Adam (Chalon Williams).

Later that day, Tom has a psychic vision of Frank telling him "they" are going to kill him and Maggie. In the vision, he walks to Frank's house and sees Adam with a gun to his chest. Tom wakes up and finds the same note Maggie left in his vision.

He does not see Frank but decides to walk to Frank's nearby house anyway. Upon arriving, he hears a gunshot and finds Adam on the floor bleeding from a gunshot wound to his head. Tom calls for help and ends up saving Adam's life, but Adam is in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Maggie runs into a mysterious man in a graveyard while taking a walk with Jake. He asks her to tell Tom to come meet with him and says goodbye to Jake, who never told him his name. Jake then says goodbye to the man, calling him Neil (Eddie Bo Smith Jr.), who also never said his name.

Instead of asking Tom to go, Maggie takes it upon herself to go ask Neil what is going on with her husband. After some initial reluctance, he tells her that sometimes trauma causes latent abilities to come forth, and that Tom is working like a broken flashlight, getting glimpses of things but not enough to know what they are.

He then says that the spirit that contacted Tom has asked for something, and will get more upset if it does not get done. When Maggie asks about Jake and his abilities, Neil smiles and says "Much better flashlight."

As time goes on, Tom and his family become more and more plagued by the spirit, and Tom becomes more and more unhinged, eventually having to ask Lisa to undo what she did. She is unable to when the spirit interferes, and instead of being hypnotized to sleep, he is told by the spirit to dig.

Maggie next finds Tom in their backyard, digging it up. She asks him what he is doing and all he repeats is... "I'm supposed to dig." Maggie leaves to go to a relative's house (for her grandmother's funeral, whose death Tom 'saw' the instant that it happened far away) as Tom's behavior becomes out of control. He begins to tear apart the house with power tools, eventually getting a jackhammer from an appliance store.

While using a sledgehammer he accidentally swings back too far and knocks down a shoddy brick wall in the basement -- and finds the wrapped up and decomposed body of Samantha. As he touches her, he is thrown into a vision of how she was killed.

Adam and Kurt had lured Samantha into Kurt's house, and when Adam and Kurt tried to have sex with Samantha, she resisted. When Samantha started screaming, Adam and Kurt wanted her to stop screaming, so they put a sheet of plastic over her face to muffle the screams, not really expecting the plastic to suffocate her. Samantha's death is why Adam shot himself. He couldn't handle the feelings of guilt anymore.

Maggie is shown at her relative's house with Jake, telling him she is going to go home and check on Tom. When asked if he wants to go, Jake declines, saying he's scared of the feathers. Tom walks out of the basement in a daze, and walks to Frank's house. Tom brings him back to the house with him, shows him the body, and tells him the story.

Frank breaks down and admits that Adam and Kurt told him and Harry about it. He then points a gun at Tom and tells him to leave the basement. As Tom flees upstairs a shot is fired, presumably Frank shooting himself.

Immediately after, there is a knock on the door. Both Kurt and Harry are standing there, wondering why the house is torn apart. Tom nervously says he is looking for a leaky water main. Harry, who already knows Tom has found the body that he and Kurt put in the basement while remodeling, rushes in and grabs Tom while Kurt prepares to shoot him.

A honk from out front stops them, and they turn off the lights as Maggie comes walking in. Harry grabs Maggie and takes her hostage and is about to shoot her when Frank appears (he didn't shoot himself) and fatally shoots both Kurt and Harry in order to save Tom and Maggie.

As Harry dies, his own gun goes off in the air, shooting straight up through the ceiling into Jake's bedroom and going right through Jake's pillow, leaving feathers floating down as per Jake's ominous warning.

Frank then walks out and sits on the front steps saying they were going to kill him and Maggie, mirroring one of Tom's earlier visions. Tom then notices Samantha's spirit. She puts on her glasses and coat, smiles, then walks down the road and disappears.

At the end of the movie, we see the family packing up a U-Haul and moving out of the house. As they drive away, Tom and Maggie look happy. In the final shot, however, we see Jake looking out of the window as a hubbub of ghostly voices gets louder and louder. Jake tries to cover his ears to drown them out. [1]


Box office

The film opened at number 3, and made $5,811,664 and stayed in the top 10 for 3 weeks, after a 14 week run, the total domestic gross was $21,073,708[2]. In the UK the film grossed £818,213. Worldwide the film grossed more than $23 million.


External links



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