Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming (DVD)

Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming (DVD)
War is hell, and so is this direct-to-disc sequel.
Updated: 11-19-2007

1999's Stir of Echoes is still a creepy fright fest which holds up to this day in spite of its many imitators. (At the time, many of the boo-scare techniques were fairly innovative.) That big screen feature starred Kevin Bacon, and was directed by David Koepp (based on the stellar work of Richard Matheson). Unfortunately, Stir of Echoes 2 can't even be called an imitator — it is nothing even remotely like the first one. It's a sequel in name only, and there are no impressive filmmaker "names" to name.


More a message film about the horrors of war and love-thy-neighbor tolerance than anything coming close to horror or suspense, Stir of Echoes 2 examines the vexation of Iraq war vet, Ted Cogan (Rob Lowe), after he's sent home to the U.S. following a mission gone bad. Haunted by the memories of an awful day in the desert in which his snap decision cost many lives, Ted just can't escape the ghosts of his past. Are they figments of his fevered imagination? His guilt crying out to be addressed? …or are they actual entities?


Those are the questions, but you may not care about the answers by the time the twentieth fake-out fades and we see Ted doing a wide-eyed double-take back in the real world among the living. The living include his long-suffering wife Molly (Marnie McPhail), and his insufferable son Max (Ben Lewis). Each is having their issues, but Ted P.T.S.D. flashbacks take center stage as the movie devolves into a series of these "what's happening?" episodes, finally culminating in a resolution that's very similar to something you'd see on a weekly TV show like Ghost Whisperer or Cold Case.


Lowe's acting is fine, given the limitations of his character (Ted is either taciturn, or terrified). McPhail and Lewis fare better but the whole underwritten family come off rather gloomy and glum. Sure, I can understand why, but even the "I See Dead People" kid had a couple of dimensions to his personality. (FYI, the original Stir of Echoes was overshadowed by The Sixth Sense, having been released shortly after… let's hope there isn't a Sixth Sense sequel starring Chad Lowe on its way!)


Stir of Echoes 2 is not a bad movie exactly, it's just rather repetitive and completely lacking in suspense or chills. It's more a drama and a mystery — which is all well and good, but not if you're a horror fan hoping to rent a rousing sequel.


The DVD is presented in widescreen and offers captions for the hearing-impaired. There is also a 12-minute featurette in which the actors and writer/director Ernie Barbarash regurgitate press notes on what the movie is about, how they got involved, and why they all love it so much. Barbarash teams up with editor Mitchel Lackie for a commentary that bemoans a low budget and limited shooting schedule, while praising the talent of the stars.


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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