Echoes Blu-ray review
A woman changes in her room. Twenty or so wine corks and a spilled bottle of pills are nearby. She heads to bed. In the middle of the night, the light starts flicking, her hand starts twitching and a bug crawls along the wall.
Anna (Kate French, 2014’s THE RED HOUSE) is a writer living in Los Angeles, struggling to get her screenplay bought by a major studio. She should be focusing on tweaking her latest work, but she spends more time popping pills, looking up videos on sleep paralysis and hoping she can get a decent night of sleep. It doesn’t work, and sometime when the owls start hooting, there is a knock at the door. It’s her manager, Paul (Steven Brand, ABC’s SECRETS AND LIES), and he’s not there to coach her through a draft.
He thinks it’s time that he and Anna get out of town to clear her mind. So he takes her to a hideaway out at Joshua Tree. It’s a lovely house overlooking the desert. Paul cooks steaks, pours wine and encourages Anna to relax while she’s away from the noise of L.A. Things go fine until Paul is called back to the city on business and Anna is left alone to duct tape trash bags over the windows…(Anna even pushes Paul to head out of town, as if to say, “Look, Paul, you need to leave me alone in a house I’m unfamiliar with in a part of the state I’ve never been to; otherwise, I won’t have any more nightmares and there will be no movie!”) It’s during this alone time that the visions kick in and she meets a creepy local (Steve Hanks, MEGA SHARK VS. MECHA SHARK), who is the target of perhaps the least-threatening ultimatum ever uttered in the state of California: “You try another stunt like that and I’ll have immigration send you back to Canada!”
ECHOES is a horror movie in that it’s set up as one and comprised of scares that have long been recycled clichés, like the power going out or the shadowy figure turning out to be an animal (here, the token cat has been replaced by a dog named, yes, Shadow). Even the more visually-driven frights tend to be half-developed, as when Anna’s scarf flies off and suddenly turns into a human-shaped figure, a transformation that looks like a cheap in-camera effect that could have used some post-production help.
The spooky happenings continue for the duration of the movie—numbers scrawled on the wall (which Anna correctly identifies right away as a date, although it could have just as well been a zip code to a town that won’t carry ECHOES) disappear overnight, security camera footage shows a knife being plunged into a person—but none jolt the audience like they’re meant to. ECHOES is a collection of worn material that doesn’t work, directed by an individual (Nils Timm, his debut) who has studied too many bad movies.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are fine throughout, but the black levels aren’t as deep as they should be to get the intended affect.
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio is strong, with clean dialogue and effective SFX.
There are no special features on this release.