DECEMBER 18, 2009
The back of The Echo has one of my favorite quotes in recent memory: “Jesse Bradford Grabs The Audience Whenever He’s On Screen!” (efilm critic). As opposed to when he’s not on-screen? Who is grabbing us then? Also, as today is Avatar day, I momentarily considered a 3D version of The Echo where Bradford LITERALLY grabbed audience members (through the growing power of 3D technology) and tossed them about the theater as he worked out his anger at going from being the star of a Clint Eastwood prestige film in 2007 to starring in DTV horror movies today.
Anyway, it’s a decent enough little movie. You know exactly what you’re in for - the front of the DVD proudly points out that the film is from the exec producers of The Ring and The Grudge, and the cover features not Bradford and his audience grabbing appendages, but a little scary ghost girl. That the film goes its entire 96 minutes without a single scene of someone being soaked and dripping is about the only real surprise about it.
But it’s been a while since I’ve watched one of these things, and that it’s NOT based on a Japanese film (it’s based on a Filipino one! Name is Sigaw, and director Yam Laranas helmed both films) renders it far more worthwhile than the pointless remakes of Shutter, One Missed Call, etc. For starters, they don’t try to blend the two cultures together, or base it on some sort of “real” phenomenon, which allows the film to focus on mood and tension instead of people yammering on about “spirit photography” or EVP or whatever. We as a people understand the basic idea of scary ghosts, and that’s what the film offers us.
And like the Grudge (actually, the film as a whole is reminiscent of Grudge 3, in that its confined to an apartment building and every now and then a resident is killed just to keep things from getting too “moody”), we actually have a couple ghosts, and part of the fun of the film is figuring out which ones mean us harm and which ones are trying to warn us (if any). Since one of them is played by Kevin Durand, you know he’s bad (this guy is great, by the way, and I hope Legion does well enough to give him more exposure), but the little girl and the mother are a bit less obvious, and I must say I was surprised by the end, where we finally learn what the ghosts were after (not a proper burial for once), making the film a bit of a morality tale in the process.
By the way, it’s a bit of a spoiler to say that they’re all ghosts, but anyone who has seen a single one of these movies should know that right away, especially as Bradford seems to be the only one who sees them and the goddamn box art shows the little girl as one anyway.
I also liked that the hero was a guy for once. Naomi Watts, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Shannyn Sossamon, Rachael Taylor, Jennifer Connelly, Jessica Alba... you see a pattern here? For once, instead of saying “I’d like to get her drunk”, I was thinking “I’d go for a beer with this dude.” And since he was easier to identify with, I was also thinking “Why can’t I live next door to ghosts?” and “I wonder if the original had a dude or if they changed it from a woman just to give this movie a bit of its own identity on the store shelves?” (NOTE - I didn’t know it was a remake until I saw it in the credits).
Of course, if you dislike these things than it won’t do anything to change your mind. It plays out in the same way as they all do (guy moves in somewhere, starts hearing noises, has to deal with people thinking he’s crazy, etc) and the story is a bit thin compared to some of the others. It also has its fair share of repetition (this movie must hold the record for numbers of scenes of characters listening to doors being locked from the other side) and some rather worthless supporting characters, such as Bradford’s ex’s friend. But like I said, it had been a while since I watched one of these things, and since I was about to embark on a tour of Pandora, I was somewhat charmed by its simplicity (plus some of the smaller scares are pretty creepy). I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way.
My screener has no extras, not sure if the final DVD had some. But my main interest is seeing the original anyway, so I just queued it up. Anyone see it? Good, bad?
What say you?