I don’t know about you, but I hate newer houses in the suburbs. Being in a big quiet house in a quiet neighborhood can really feed your imagination when you’re all alone. I think I can thank Paranormal Activity for that. There is something about the openness of them. White walls with the fluorescent lighting bouncing off of them. The uneasiness of knowing there is more storage space than you know what to do with. Echoes of Fear plays on that modern fear of suburban home crawl-spaces and the secrets they are most definitely hiding.
Brian and Laurence Avenet-Bradley were able to place tiny yet effective details in the formula to differentiate their story without trying to be too different. I was a little thrown off at the beginning of the film. My first confusion was that Alisa doesn’t seem upset at all over her grandfather’s passing. I thought this was going to be part of something that has to do with her later on, but it doesn’t. It’s a little boring because Alisa is just boring. Once we start getting down to business, the line of vision straightens out. I fully appreciated every single jump scare because they are timed so well whether you see them coming or not. The movements and cutting of the scene with the hands coming through the curtains sent my heart racing. Another really great moment was the first form of contact by Alisa and the ghost in the outdoor crawl space. Also, we love a little Hitchcock homage.
Alisa inherits her grandfather’s house after he mysteriously passes. In order to sell it, she moves in to fix it up. She quickly starts to sense she isn’t the only one there as random paranormal things keep happening. After her boyfriend leaves for the weekend, her friend Steph comes to help her investigate and what they discover is something much more than ghosts.
The first act plays like your run of the mill ghost story. Unsuspecting people move into a new house. Creepy noises happen, shadows occur, annoying boyfriend leaves obviously scared girlfriend in the house all alone. By the second act we get into the mystery, which is where I was roped in. The film relies on the story more than the haunting visuals because by the end, you realize the real horror of the story is Alisa’s discoveries about her grandfather’s secrets.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I’m usually not one to be too particular with performances unless it doesn’t really match up with the directing or the overall feel of the film. Sadly that’s what happened here. Trista Robinson plays Alisa, but it feels like she’s trying out for different characters the whole time. I couldn’t really understand who she was as a character because her facial expressions and body language didn’t say anything until something really scary happens. I never feel like she’s scared until she’s in the middle of it. And even then, she yelps but brushes it off and keeps going like she’s in a video game on her way to the next quest. Hanna Race who plays Steph and Paul Chirico playing Brandon don’t really save it either. The most convincing performance was David, played by Marshal Hilton. Big fat shout out to the two mice who played Alisa’s cute mouse.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The sound design was really interesting and almost seemed out of place at first until I realized it was giving me answers to questions I didn’t know I had yet. My only real issue with the sound is that when you hear the characters from the perspective of being in another room, the dialogue was obviously recorded on set and then heavily buried while editing. It doesn’t sound like they’re in the next room over with carrying echoes, it just sounds like they muffled the sound bite.
The production design wasn’t the strongest aspect of the film, but it really captured the bland feel of suburban life. I LOVED the visuals of the ghost and the flashbacks. Everything the spirit was involved in was overwhelmingly effective. My favorite visual is towards the end where we are focused on Alisa’s eyes as she is being shown something. The lighting, camera angle, and the details within those specific frames made me see the film differently for the remainder of it.
I love when indie horror films can give me a coherent story line without focusing too much on the visuals until they need to. The story was strong throughout, and while the characters weren’t my favorite, I’m interested to see what these directors come up with in the future. Check it out if you get the chance!