Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Echo

The Echo 2008
Director: Yam Laranas
Writer: Eric Bernt and Shintaro Shimosawa
Starring Jesse Bradford, Iza Calzado, Amelia Warner, Jamie Bloch, Kevin Durand, Carlos Leon and Louise Linton

In recent years there has been a glut of Japanese style horror films glutting the market and It had been a long while since I saw one I really liked, the last one being Pulse. The premise for this film looked intriguing and the trailer was very creepy. I am glad I did, as this was a very creepy and eerie ghost story, that made me jump quite a few times. IT also relies more on the mood and atmosphere, something you really do not see much of in today's horror films. The setup is handled well and the film slowly builds up until the tension of the characters in the film is palatable. There are moments in the film that are very unnerving and uncomfortable, and I do not get that feeling lightly when I watch a horror film these days. The characters are sympathetic and you hope they survive the experience and that is something that you really need in a film like this. You really need to care for them and they do that feat very well in this film. This was a remake of a Asian film called Sigaw and is directed by the same director. I have not seen the original but if it is half as good as this film, it is a truly well done film.
The plot basics are this, Bobby Reynolds (Bradford) is a young man who has just been released from prison on probation. He goes to move into a old apartment building in the East Village of New York, where his lonely mother had recently passed away. He tries to rebuild his life, but he is deemed an outcast for what he did. He tries to reconnect with his former girlfriend Alyssa (Warner), but she is wary. Soon, he begins hearing voices that seem to be coming next door of a fight between a abusive husband against his wife and daughters. He investigates but is never able to find any proof that these people exist. Bobby soon discovers that what he is hearing are the ghosts of the family who are enraged because none of the neighbors bothered to help the family when the husband beat the family to death. Bobby needs to find a way to stop it before him or Alyssa get hurt irreparably.
This is a very well done film. The direction by Laranas is evocative and eerie and serves the story very well. The claustrophobic feel of the apartment building can be felt in every scene in the film. The script is very taut as well. It starts off at a slow simmer but soon enough it boils over and that is when the terror and horror begins to be inflicted on the occupants of the complex. The characters are very well drawn out, especially Bobby and Alyssa. These two are the heart and soul of the film and everything in the film revolves around them and the viewer actually cares what happens to them, not a easy feat when making a supernatural film. The cast is very good, Bradford is very capable as Bobby and makes you see a man who has made some huge mistakes in his life and is trying to put the pieces back together into his broken life. Warner as Alyssa is good too, she is hesitant to listen to Bobby, but soon begins to believe the ghosts that are tormenting him. Also of note, is Durand as Walter the Abusive husband, and volatile spirit. He usually plays a good heavy and this film is no excerption. The SFX and effects are minimal, but are used to great effect. It just shows you that a little goes a long way. The best example is the beating Alyssa takes by the ghost at the end. This is a very creepy and haunting ghost story and well worth seeking out.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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