15 – 2008 – 92mins
IF WALLS COULD TALK
With DVD cover-art dominated by the names of more popular horror films the crew had the most minimal association with, and peppered with commendable quotes from unheard of online critics (“Unleash the Flying Monkeys”, anyone?), Metrodome’s publicity gurus clearly hoped to elevate The Echo above the forgettable flock of straight-to-DVD genre flicks using every marketing trick in the book – except giving anyone a clear idea of what the film is actually about.
For one, the photoshopped image of a ghoulish girl standing in front of a fire accompanied by the tagline “… Are you my mummy?” not only misleads curious browsers (at no point does a fire break out, or a little girl ask if anyone is her mother), it also gives away a rather major spoiler concerning the film’s central mystery (you don’t know the girl is a ghost until long after you first meet her).
Secondly, the packaging also curiously neglects to mention that this is a remake of a hugely successful 2004 Filipino film called Sigaw (which, Wikipedia reliably informs me, translates to Scream or Shout), with original director Yam Laranas returning to call the shots again. Because knowing that the executive producer once dated the brother of the intern who got Daniel Radcliffe’s coffee on The Woman is Black is far more pertinent information…!
But I suppose when an underperforming flop has been gathering dust on the studio shelf for five years (it wasn’t available on home release in the UK until 2013), you’ll try literally anything to shift a couple of extra discs – and it certainly fooled me into giving The Echo a spin.
Jesse Bradford (best known for 2002’s Swimfan, but all but forgotten in 2008, let alone 2013) leads a slight cast as a man fresh out of prison. As a condition of his parole he is forced to move in to his mother’s dingy apartment. Sadly his mother passed away while he was doing time, and the first half of this 90minute feature is spent within the dilapidated and squalid abode as Bobby hears noises coming from his rowing neighbours (one of whom is a towering, bullish policeman played by Kevin Durand).
Amelia Warner is on hand to lend a slender shard of sunlight to the shadowy gloom as Bobby’s pre-jail flame, but otherwise it’s a frustratingly slow, sombre and lonely opening, the liveliest moment of which is the night Bobby dreams of his dead mother. As Bobby becomes increasingly spooked by the racket from beyond the plasterboard, we are introduced to the wife Kevin Durand is fighting with (Iza Calzado, returning from Sigaw), and their little girl (the poster child).
It is only now – approximately halfway through – that we are informed that the apartment next to Bobby’s has been vacant for some time… Hereon in, the pace ratchets up and the film is transformed from dull sleeper into frenzied jump-scare addict, with the ghosts of the victimised mother and daughter appearing around every corner to haunt the tenants who failed to step in when Kevin Durand tormented them.
The climax is as muddily and frantic as the second half, with the disgruntled ghosts apparently satisfied with Bobby intervening during Kevin Durand’s vicious beating… in a visionary flashback! I’m not entirely sure how the corporeal Bobby was able to do this, or how this helps these phantoms find peace (after all they are still dead, so he didn’t actually save them), but it thankfully silences The Echo none too soon and I never need hear it again.
CR@B’s Claw Score: