"Stir of Echoes" is exciting both as a movie and as a return to adult filmmaking after a run of utterly stupid "Halloween" retreads whose claim to freshness was posing as "Scream" retreads.It's no real surprise that the pieces of the puzzle in "Stir of Echoes" are more fun and scary than the eventual completion--as a full picture, there are cracks and problems. But when you're working it out in your head and the story is unwinding, you're blinded to the faults.
You're actually having a good time. At the movies.
I suppose I overreacted a little bit when I first saw "Stir of Echoes" because it was the first time in forever that I actually enjoyed watching a movie and got caught up in the plot, rather than wearily eye the clock, waiting for the credits to roll.
It's a good feeling, watching a movie that entertains you. But the problem with entertaining movies is that they eventually overwork themselves, and "Stir of Echoes" is no exception.
Koepp keeps the madness popping until the last twenty minutes or so, when he tacks on a "grand finale"--a blood splattered free-for-all that reminded me way too much of "Scream."
And if even "Scream," with all of its considerable wit and verve, couldn't keep from tripping on its cinematic shoelaces and toppling over under the weight of its aim-to-please core, then "Stir of Echoes" sure as hell can't withstand this much senseless violence.
It's not that "Stir of Echoes" isn't a good movie; it certainly is that (even *with* the final implosion staged as explosion). But it can never rise above the status of thriller because that's where Koepp's heart is.
He doesn't aim too high in the grand scheme of things--he's more interested in scaring us than creating a piece of art. And while the lack of pretension is enjoyable in itself, it is a rare movie that can be more than it aspires to."Stir of Echoes" is not extraordinary, but it's very, very scary.