Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Days of Horror: The Echo

2008, Yam Laranas (the original Echo as well as some other Filipino horrors) -- download

As I mentioned, Asian horror movies can be hit or miss.  It can be extremely atmospheric and explore aspects of horror we are familiar with, in new ways, or it can just do things that bore us. This one hits all the right notes, but it's connections to Asian styles are tenuous.  Given that it is the remake, by the same director at least, of the Filipino original I wonder if more of the stylistic choices were more drawn from American films than the first.

This is a ghost story, a straight forward haunting by the dead who suffered horribly at the hands of a loved one.  Bobby is fresh out of prison after a long haul for manslaughter. He has no place to go and no family, only the NY apartment left to him by his mother. This must be one of the few previous century tenements that has not been gentrified yet because the apartment is huge and man, is that place grotty. It's ghost story grotty with dust & scratches everywhere, cracked plaster and enough creaky doors & floor boards to satisfy ten ghost stories. Almost immediately Bobby begins to hear things, and occasionally see them, that cannot be there. Some people think he's nuts, some people are also experiencing it and others... well, some others have some unfortunate encounters with the ghosts.

The scares are played well in this movie with the sounds being the primary factor. Of course, there are the usual shapes flitting by in the background and loud bangs, but it's the other sounds attributed to the echoes of the lives the ghosts had, the scraping and yelling through the walls. It's an old building so it really uses the thin walls or ghost question to it's full advantage.  As things escalate things become a little more horrible; angry ghosts are angry at everyone. Sounds translate to visions which translate to contact.

What I liked about this movie is that it touched on the creation factor of the ghosts; people suffer horrible deaths every day but why is the world not filled with ghosts? Some factors tie them to their past life, and in this one it was the fact that the residents watched what happened to the family but did nothing about it. Bobby steps into the role of interference and allows them to resolve things.