I just saw Stir of Echoes, starring Kevin Bacon as a normal guy who suddenly finds himself knee deep in the paranormal. A lot has been said about the similarities between Stir Of Echoes and one of the summer's bigges surprises, The Sixth Sense. Let me just say right now, I liked The Sixth Sense much more than Stir. I think Sense, written and directed to perfection by M. Night Shyamalan, is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. Sure, at times it scared me, but then again, I can be a major wimp! Overall though, it was a very entertaining movie with great acting from the entire cast, including Bruce Willis as the psychologist trying to make sure he doesn't fail the little boy who can "see dead people". That little boy, played by Haley Joel Osment, just blew me away! I've never seen such a young person play such a complex role before, and play it perfectly! While I want Kevin Spacey to win a Best Actor Academy Award for American Beauty, I really would like to see Haley be nominated as Best Supporting Actor...AND WIN! The little boy's mother is played by Toni Collette, a great actress who was the star of the quirky Muriel's Wedding. Olivia Williams, from The Postman and Rushmore, plays Bruce Willis' estranged wife. Another character of note in Sense is played by Mishca Barton. Her role was pretty small, but essential to the story.
Stir of Echoes, written & directed by David Koepp,writer of, among other things, Jurassic Park and it's sequel, is a creepy, not TOO predictable psychological thriller. The movie is based on a 1958 novel by Richard Matheson. That alone should quiet some of the buzz about Stir being a rip off of Sense, but still, the similarities are obvious. By the way, Richard Matheson also wrote the novel, What Dreams May Come, another recent hit movie. Anyway, in Stir Of Echoes, Kevin Bacon's son, played very well by Zachary David Cope...well, let's just say he has a similar characteristics to the boy in Sense...but he's not so secretive about it, his parents are just too preoccupied to notice.
One night at a party, skeptical Kevin dares his sister in law, played by the always cool Ileana Douglas, to hypnotize him. Well, when all is said and done, Kevin begins to understand what's going on with his son, and becomes obsessed with figuring it all out. All the while his wife, played very well by an actress I'm really not familiar with called Kathryn Erbe, has to try to keep her family together. In this movie, the role of the other essential character is played by Jennifer Morrison. She's good in the role, doesn't come off quite as sympathetic as the similar role in Sense.
So as you can see by my overly simplified breakdowns of both movies, they ARE very similar. The only way to compare them fairly is a step by step, role by role analysis, from the writing to the directing and then to the acting.
I'm sorry, but everytime, I still end up choosing The Sixth Sense.
Besides, it has the better ending!