March 8, 2010

The Echo (2008)

"Echoes from the past plague ex-con Bobby (Jesse Bradford) when he moves into his dead mother's apartment and begins to hear disturbing noises next door. His paranoia grows as he investigates and realizes that no one else notices the strange and sinister happenings."

It appears that "The Echo" is a remake of an Asian horror called "Sigaw" (2004) from the Philippines. It's by the same director, Yam Laranas, so it's following in the tradition of "The Grudge" and all those others where the same director makes an English language version with different actors, a few word changes and a lot of dumbing down for the masses. Not that I'd know because I've never seen the original but it seems that a lot of people rated it quite highly. From the torture I went through watching this version, I'd have to say that it must be a shadow, or an echo, of its former incarnation.

Apart from "Bring It On", I've never seen Jesse Bradford in anything so I was quite surprised to see him play a more serious role. Of course, he still had to do that stupid lopsided smile thing but I suppose that's just his face and he can't help it. Why he smiled at all baffled me though because his character had a pretty miserable time in the movie. He was really good in the part though.

The story started quite well and had a very creepy atmosphere. I can't fault any of that. It was a bit grainy and had lots of brown hues but that kind of thing is acceptable I suppose. But it was supposed to be a scary ghost story and it just wasn't.

Well, it was a ghost story in a similar way to how "The Grudge" was a ghost story but it was also very distancing. Vengeful ghosts should be terrifying but here they were just sort of repeating their deaths over and over then killing anyone who didn't step in to help them. I suppose this is something that Asian horror lovers appreciate more than Westerners since these moral, almost religious, and mythological themes seem to crop up quite a lot.

The death scenes weren't all that good and the whole ending of the story was really weak. It wasn't overly predictable and it kept my interest until the end but I felt a bit cheated especially as I was trying to get my head round what was going on for 90% of the film. It's sort of like a whodunnit but you already know "who dunnit" and the rest of the time you are trying to match up what goes where, why and with who.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a confusing film apart from the ending. I was just expecting more and was overthinking it. I wanted a real surprise twist or something but all I got was yet another J-horror anticlimax.

For that reason, I would have to describe "The Echo" as being slightly above average but, paradoxically, neither memorable or rewatchable.

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