Supernatural elements? Check. An attractive, vulnerable but not totally helpless, somewhat damaged protagonist? Check. A formidable antagonist with a penchant for violence? Check. Spooky setting? Check. A well-written story? Check.
What more could a fan of scary movies ask for?
4 stars out of 5
I rented The Echo (2008) from Netflix on 11/28/2009 and watched it at 1 AM, which I only advise if you can handle being disturbed late at night. Personally, I wouldn’t watch it again any later than 11 PM. The film was directed by Yam Laranas (Philippines) and the screenplay was written by Eric Bernt and Shintaro Shimosawa.
Let me preface this review with the fact that I did not know The Echo was an English remake of Sigaw – 2004, written and directed by Yam Laranas – until I read the blurb on the DVD envelope, so I cannot compare it to the original. However, I will watch the original someday because, well, I’m a movie geek.
Also, if at all possible, avoid any lengthy plot recaps or synopses. The less you know about the movie the better. To be honest, I only rented it for Kevin Durand hubba hubba. I kinda knew what to expect as far as the plot but I was completely surprised by its quality.
And that surprise is the main reason I dig around in the straight-to-DVD horror section. Most times I end up with duds, but every once in a while, I discover solid additions to the horror genre that I can’t believe mainstream audiences probably won’t hear about.
The Echo was genuinely creepy and suspenseful. I actually contemplated covering my eyes during certain scenes because I almost couldn’t take the build up to their climax. Though I’m sure watching it late at night helped increase the suspense and feelings of dread.
The major components of the film’s success were the overall eerie atmosphere, despite the setting – an old apartment building – being somewhat cliché; the smart use of lighting to create shadows that toyed with my imagination; the goosebump-worthy sound effects; and the steady pace, not too fast and not too slow, so the tension increased naturally with each scene.
I wasn’t sure Jesse Bradford could pull it off, being the lead male actor, but he did. It’s important to note: if the actors had not done such a great job in their roles, this film wouldn’t have felt as authentic as it did, at least in my eyes. The story pulled me in straight away, which could directly correspond to the depth of its characters. I won’t discuss the film’s social commentary, but I like a story that exposes the possibilities for horror in every day life then mixes the reality with a healthy dose of fictional heebie jeebies.
Now, for all the gorehounds out there, you will not satisfy your bloodlust with this movie because there’s hardly any gore. Viewers will also notice the lack of CGI or other heavy-handed special effects. However, the absence of both really enhanced the experience and upped the suspense level.
If I had to pick something I didn’t 100% enjoy, it would be the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it works as is, but I suspect most people will not be satisfied with it. In a perfect world, I would’ve liked just a little more closure before the credits rolled – probably because I was so invested in the characters and the story. But, leaving the audience with a few questions isn’t always a bad idea, especially if there’s ever the chance for a sequel.
The biggest thing I’d like to pass along to you, dear reader, is being thoroughly shocked by how much I enjoyed what boils down to an uncomplicated ghost story. I’ve watched a lot of horror movies, hundreds with all sorts of bells and whistles, so the simplistic nature of The Echo was…refreshing. I highly suggest this movie to anyone who likes supernatural thrillers or mild horror with strong supernatural elements.
Have you seen Sigaw (2004 original) or The Echo (2008 remake)? What did you think?
Have you ever watched a movie that really surprised you? Which one?
You can purchase The Echo (2008) on DVD from Amazon.