Yet another entry into the Asian horror/American remake category, The Echo has one distinction that sets it apart from the rest of its Far East brethren. It was adapted from the movie Sigaw (2004), making it the first Filipino film to get an American remake. Yes, they actually have their own film industry. Who knew? Having that distinction, however, doesn’t make it any more original than all of those Ringu/Ju-On hybrids that Hollywood keeps churning out. Director Yam Laranas, who helmed the original, is back behind the camera for The Echo.
Bobby (Jesse Bradford) is an ex-con newly released from prison and on probation. He moves into an old pre-war apartment in East Village, New York, where his lonely mother had lived but recently passed away. Trying to piece back together the remnants of his former life proves difficult for Bobby as he finds himself alienated by his former girlfriend (Amelia Warner) as well as his neighbours. Loneliness leads quickly to insanity when Bobby finds himself seeing ghostly visions and hearing strange sounds emanating from the walls. Bobby can also hear the young woman who lives next door getting severely abused by her cop husband (Kevin Durand). Bobby tries to intervene, only to find that their apartment is empty and has been for quite some time. He now finds himself trapped in a curse that will follow him and anybody else who has the misfortune of visiting his building’s fifth floor. (And yes, this leads to yet another creepy public bathroom scene.)
Apart from some pretty eerie sound effects, there isn’t really anything satisfying about this movie. The acting is extremely subpar, with the notable exception of Kevin Durand, whose large physical presence gives his portrayal of Walter some much needed intensity. The look of The Echo does show promise of a budding film director with an eye for dark atmospheric tones, but if you’ve seen The Grudge, then you’ve pretty much already seen this.
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