Based on a previous film, Sigaw, by Yam Laranas and Roy C. Iglesias, The Echo follows a young man, Bobby Reynolds (Jesse Bradford) on his release from prison, who heads back to his late mother’s apartment where he not only has to confront the demons of his past, but also confront some apparitions of a more supernatural nature.
It begins with him hearing weird noises coming from out of the walls of his mother’s apartment, seeing visions of a strange, sad little girl and her badly beaten up mother, and finding someone’s torn off fingernails wrapped in a bloody cloth inside his mother’s piano. He also discovers that his mother starved to death, as she ended up hiding herself away in a closet as she was probably too scared to come out.
And while all this weird shit is going on he’s also trying to find a place for himself in a world he has been absent from for several years, including trying to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend who it seems blames herself for his being sent away – Bobby basically beat a man to death when he discovered the man trying to sexually assault her and therefore ended up getting a jail sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
As things become more and more peculiar and dangerous for our main protagonist so the tension and general air of creepiness increases exponentially too. In fact I’d say one of The Echo’s main strengths is making a strong, young man seem vulnerable and ill at ease with the world around him. It does this through an interesting soundscape (lots of weird off-kilter noises), with an interesting colour scheme (all browns and sick shades of yellow and grey) and by gently building up the layers of things going on that just aren’t quite right. There’s also a jump-out-of-your-skin moment involving a finger coming out of a hole in the wall!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite sold on Jesse Bradford’s performance – he plays confused well, but his range seemed to be a bit muted for most of the time and he spends most of his time mumbling his lines. However the other actors in the film provide able support, particularly his girlfriend, Alyssa (Amelia Warner), and his garage boss Hector (Carlos Leon).
While the denouement isn’t quite as impactful as I’d hoped it would be, the story does have a fairly satisfactory conclusion, although I couldn’t help feeling that the grand finale might have been modified by studio interference. It also seems strange that the film was made back in 2007 and has only just got a major release, which makes me think an original version might have been changed a little to make it end differently to how the original writers had planned. But I’m only postulating here.
Overall The Echo is a decent, well-shot, haunted house horror flick with enough bloody clue breadcrumbs to make the journey worthwhile. I would certainly recommend it to those who have enjoyed Japanese J-horror films in the past such as The Ring, Dark Water and The Grudge.
Metrodome have just released this film on DVD. No additional extras were included on the discs so I’m guessing there probably won’t be any on the general release copy either.