Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ten Statements About....STIR OF ECHOES 2: THE HOMECOMING (2007)

Rob Lowe lights a candle for his career
after appearing in this film...
1) I knew I was in trouble with this film when it opened with an overexposed flashback to Rob Lowe's Ted in Iraq. Not because it was an overexposed flashback with artfully blurred sound and stutter-steppy movement...this film was going to be trouble because it was obviously shot on 'film look' video, which means that it would have none of the nuanced cinematorgraphy of the original.

2) And make no bones about it--this film is as subtle as being punched in the face repeatedly. Writer/director Ernie Barbarash seems intent on making sure everything that worked in the first film is discarded here. It's underlit, its scares are arbitrary and without logic, it's in-your-face where the original was subtle, and its lack of a sense of place is so awkward that I didn't realize this took place in the same neighborhood as the original until Lowe downloads an article from the Chicago Tribune.

3) On the plus side, Rob Lowe is so, so much better than this film deserves...and there are these rare moments when you catch sight of Lowe's face, and you realize he knows it as well. His performance is in an entirely different realm than this half-assed piece of crap needed.

4) You know, I don't like Vik Sahay's performance as Lester in Chuck on about the same level as I don't like Jennifer Morrison's as Cameron in House...doesn't mean I enjoy seeing him beaten, set on fire and locked in a dumpster.

5) And then there's the one rather tenuous connection to the original--namely the misguided appearance by an adult Jake Witzky, who self-blinds himself in an attempt to keep out the voices. Zachary Bennett's brief appearance is shouty and abrasive, and is easily the worst thing in an entire garden of awfulness.

6) Someone should have told Mr. Barbarash that the cookie cutter anti-Iraq War Gangsta Rap is not an adequate stand-in for 'Paint It Black'. For that matter....

7) ...while I'm sure Mr. Barbarash wanted to something truly meaningful about how the fallout from 9/11 encouraged racism and hatred, his treatment of this theme is not only winge-worthy in its heavy-handedness, it serves to date the film as quickly as its released. I can watch the original film over ten years later and it still feels new and current and modern. I watch this one and it already feels like a relic.

Beg all you want, Mr.'re stuck in this movie.
8) Are we really supposed to have any sympathy for Lowe's wife and kid? Granted, Ben Lewis' overdone pissed-offedness makes him unsympathetic even before we learn he's a murderer...but the fact that his wife, played by the dull and lifeless Marnie McPhail, tries to bully Ted into covering up the murder when she learns about it doesn't make you want to cheer her on. Of course, if these two actors were anything other than, well, mediocre, maybe they'd have been able to get a more interesting reaction out of us.

9) And the funny thing? At its core, all the hubbub at the front end about the Iraq war and Post-Traumatic Stress and the inconsequential. The only reason Barbarash puts it there is as a red herring...but because he puts so much emphasis on it, it hinders the flow of the story. It's the sort of complications that the original avoided (notice how everything that seems to be a red herring, like the thing with the babysitter, all dovetails into Samantha's story). and the ultimate result is that the film feels padded even with its shorter running time.

We couldn't get the rights to LIDSVILLE, so...
10) I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the special effects scares show none of the thought or intelligence that the original showed...but it is odd how delighted it seems in the extreme gore the original managed to withhold on us.

Overall...In a perfect world, Eric Barbarash would be required by law to report to David Koepp's house so that he could be kicked in the crotch every week for pretending this mess has any sort of connection to his film. As it is, all I can say is...avoid.

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