Stir of Echoes ★★★½

It had been nearly a full 15 years since I last saw this film, yet like it just happened yesterday I still remember the bad luck that lingered around Stir of Echoes at the time of its theatrical release. No one could have predicted M. Night Shyamalan's little psychological thriller, The Sixth Sense, to become such a phenomenal hit. It seems like the entire world wanted to eat that movie up and chew it down slowly, again and again. Then, just a few months later, David Koepp adapted Richard Matheson's novel into this compact, gritty, and altogether effective supernatural thriller that unfortunately drew too many comparisons to Shyamalan's massively successful game changer.

Koepp, primarily known for his screenwriting credits on a variety of major Hollywood films, also took directorial duties on Stir of Echoes. He had only directed one other feature before this, but he already proved to be more than capable of handling this type of material. The claustrophobic feel he puts the audience in, and most of the time directly in Kevin Bacon's head, still holds up mighty well after all these years. I was a bit surprised to find that I was very involved with the progress of the story on a rewatch. I have been revisiting quite a lot of movies that came out in my teenage years that I loved at the time, but most of them have not aged well. I would have made a bet that Stir of Echoes was going to be one of those who the years have not been kind to, but I was wrong.

It's been a long time since I have wanted to rewatch The Sixth Sense, too, but I can't see it being much better than Koepp's film. It has some weaknesses, mainly in the performances around Bacon, but it earns its R rating and has some genuinely spooky moments.

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