Reviewed by: Carole Stewart McDonnell
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Zachary David Cope, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Dunn, Conor O'Farrell, Lusia Strus, Stephen Eugene Walker, Mary Kay Cook, Larry Neumann Jr., Jennifer Morrison, Richard Cotovsky, Steve Rifkin, Chalon Williams, Liza Weil, George Ivey, Lisa Lewis, Mike Bacarella, Christian Stolte, Eddie Bo Smith Jr., Hyowon K. Yoo, James Andelin, Karen Vaccaro, Antonio Polk, Rosario Varela, Duane Sharp | Directed by David Koepp | Produced by Artisan Entertainment, Judy Hofflund, Gavin Polone, Michele Weisler | Written by David Koepp | Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
“Stir of Echoes” echoes much of today’s spiritualism. It also tackles the idea of “good neighborhoods” and our culture’s tendency to aspire to specialness.
Minutes after the opening credits, Tom (another well-played middle-class Kevin Bacon character) learns his wife Maggie is pregnant with their second child. This is not exactly welcome news. Money is tight and Tom’s musical aspirations have all but faded. He tells his wife he had not known his life would be so “ordinary.” His ordinariness is about to change. His flaky new-ager sister-in-law challenges him to a hypnosis session. The next thing the audience knows is Tom has become a “receiver”. Granted, he’s not as talented as his more “sensitive” son, but he’s game. After all, it’s his chance to be special. And the ghost who is haunting his mind (and his family) wants him to do something. And that’s what he’s going to do.
This is the kind of movie that almost demands that Christians have some kind of spiritual answer. I’ve heard many kinds of explanations about ghosts and haunted houses. These explanations range. Ghosts are called psychological hallucinations, demonic entities, lost souls who need to be prayed for or who need to have the gospel preached to them, folks with important messages from the other side. Beliefs about the afterlife are so intertwined with people’s spiritual, emotional and denominational make-up—and that Christian’s personal history—that in situations where major Christian beliefs aren’t affected or dismissed, many Christians tend to reserve judgment and avoid spiritual catfights. However, sometimes Christians are forced to make a judgment. In this case, I find it hard-put to believe that victims of violent deaths end up becoming ghosts. Why would the good shepherd leave someone wandering in outer darkness simply because of said person’s violent death?
Like the much better, creepier, “Sixth Sense”, this film will scare young children. Like that film also, supernatural events are treated as something that one is born with and that one must “learn how to use.” Many people speak of family gifts with phrases like “we have ESP in our family” etc. But Christians know that not all spiritual gifts are from God. And the deception here is that films that glorify psychic ability sometimes will plant the desire in people’s mind to develop their “psychic skills” so they can be special and “do good for mankind and lost souls.”
There is also something else that bothers me. At one point in the film, it is suggested that the character’s get a hunky priest to help them out of their fix. Need I say that the idea is dismissed as quickly as it is given? The film-makers obviously think that traditional religion knows nothing of the supernatural. Instead, the helpful advice comes from the ghost herself, from folks who are special enough to be gifted with these gifts, and from a child. This is not the Christian’s idea of spiritual warfare. It is, however, Hollywood’s idea.