Saturday, October 18, 2014

#1,524. The Echo (2008)

Directed By: Yam Laranas

Starring: Jesse Bradford, Amelia Warner, Carlos Leon

Tag line: "Do you hear it?"

Trivia: This is a remake of a 2004 Filipino horror movie of the same name

If movies like Ju-On and The Ring have taught me anything, it’s that kids can sometimes be creepy as hell. The Echo, a 2008 film directed by Yam Laranas, has its own little demon urchin, and while its story is nothing new, the movie features a handful of scenes that are sure to get your pulse pounding.

Bobby (Jesse Bradford), who’s just been released on parole after serving time for manslaughter, moves into the apartment of his recently deceased mother. Before he has a chance to settle in, however, he begins hearing strange noises coming from the apartment next door, which is occupied by a policeman (Kevin Durant) who spends his evenings beating up his wife (Iza Calzado) and child (Jamie Bloch). Hoping to put his own life back in order, Bobby gets a job with a local garage and even contacts his old girlfriend Alyssa (Amelia Warner), but when the noises continue, he finds himself drawn into a perplexing mystery that grows more horrifying with each passing day.

A remake of the 2004 Filipino film Sigaw, The Echo is a well-shot, strongly acted horror movie that, despite taking things slowly, is unsettling from the word “go”. By way of a series of deliberate tracking shots (most showing off the apartment and the surrounding complex), director Laranas (who also helmed the 2004 original) introduces a sense of menace early on, which only gets stronger as the story unfolds. Shortly after moving in, Bobby makes the startling discovery that his mother spent a great deal of time in her bedroom closet (aside from the empty cans of food scattered throughout, he finds the closet door has been equipped with a latch, which allowed her to lock it from the inside). From that moment on, things get downright spooky (Bobby experiences several visions, including one of his dead mother asking for his help), culminating in a finale that, at times, is absolutely terrifying.

Many of the standard features found in Asian-style horror in recent years are there for the taking in The Echo (a high dosage of jump scares, a haunting as the result of a tragic backstory, etc.). Yet they’re presented with enough skill to make them effective nonetheless. The Echo may travel familiar territory, but it’s a journey that’s well worth making.

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