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Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming (2007)

Lionsgate Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/20/2007

All Ratings of out
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/13/2007

For some reason, we talk about sequels a lot here at DVDSleuth.com (maybe we review a lot of sequels...?) Something which we haven't discussed lately is the "sequel in name only". This occurs when a movie has only the slightest relation to a previous movie. Typically the two films don't share any common characters, locations, or situations. The only commonality is usually a central idea or theme. (It's not unusual to have a sequel name slapped on a movie which originally had nothing to do with any other movie.) Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming definitely fits this mold.

Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming opens in Iraq where U.S. Army soldier Ted Cogan (Rob Lowe) is overseeing a check-point. Suddenly, a van ignores the check-point warning signs and speeds towards the soldiers. Ted orders the group to open fire. The van stops and a young girls emerges, and then catches fire as the van is engulfed in flames. To make matters worse, an enemy rocket hits the site, killing the girl and injuring Ted. Ted awakens in a military hospital and he's then sent home to Chicago, where he's reunited with his wife, Molly (Marnie McPhail), and his son, Max (Ben Lewis). Ted immediately begins to have disturbing visions of a burnt man. At first, he assumes that this is a simply a P.T.S.D. flashback. But, as the visions persist, he becomes convinced that he's being haunted by the people who were in the van. Molly isn't very supportive and Ted isn't sure where to turn for help. He soon realizes that he must confront the apparitions or go mad. But, Ted doesn't realize that his search for peace will take him down a very dark road.

Stir of Echoes is one of my favorite underrated films of the 90s. The movie was released just one month after The Sixth Sense premiered and it was lost in the hype surrounding that successful film. Yet, I prefer Stir of Echoes, as it offers a subtle yet creepy ghost story combined with an intriguing mystery. Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming attempts to replicate this formula, but with limited results.

As noted above, the film has little in common with its predecessor. The only similarities are that it concerns a man who has had no previous psychic experiences who suddenly begins to see ghosts and it's set in Chicago. There is a character introduced in the film who supposedly has connection to Stir of Echoes -- but if this is true, it would mean that the sequel takes place in 2015 or so. In reality, Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming plays less like a sequel than as a combination of Stir of Echoes and Jacob's Ladder, yet it pales in comparison to both of those films.

I had a lot of trouble with the characters in this movie. No offense to Rob Lowe, but he's hard to buy as a soldier, at least as a combat soldier. But, as least Ted is a fairly decent guy. The rest of the characters in the movie, especially Molly, are incredibly unlikable and one has to wonder why Ted doesn't immediately return to Iraq. The characters are also underwritten and we learn very little about them. The story is also weak at times. The movie offers a plot twist in the third act that is more confusing than shocking. By this I mean that it makes sense, but it's also pretty unbelievable. The first 2/3 of the film, which are taking us down a certain path before the twist is revealed, are fairly redundant, as Ted continues to have visions, but gets few clues and partakes in little action. So, essentially, we have a lot of scenes where Rob Lowe reacts to nothing and then gets little support from those around him.

If Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming had simply been called The Homecoming, it may have gotten a warmer reception. But, comparisons to David Koepp's superior film only hurt it. With all of the films about the Iraq War currently playing in theaters, it is nice to see a horror film taking on the topic, and it's fairly blunt in its portrayal of how the soldiers live when they come home. But, the film fails as a horror movie. It's never creepy or suspenseful and there are no "jump" scares. The mystery is somewhat dull and the reveal is a bit hard to swallow. I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, but this is one I won't be coming home to.

Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming gets psychic on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks pretty good, as the picture is sharp and clear. There is very little grain to be had here (save for the Iraq scenes) and there are no defects from the source material. The colors look fine and flesh tones appear true. The only major problem here is that some of the dark scenes are too dark and it's difficult to make out the action. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects aren't very detailed, but there's a nice amount of surround sound action and the bass really adds to some of the sudden ghost appearances.

The Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming carries only a few extra features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY by director Ernie Barbarash and editor Mitchel Lackie. This is a good chat as the two are fairly open and honest about the making of the movie. They talk about their limited budget and schedule and Barbarash admits to his love of the original film. They comment on the locations and the actors and describe some items which were changed from the original script. "Stir of Echoes Homecoming: The Perspective with Rob Lowe, Marnie McPhail and director Ernie Barbarash" (12 minutes) is a standard featurette way too many clips and fairly general comments from Lowe, McPhail, and Barbarash. They discuss the story, the characters, and the realities of the film. There is some behind-the-scenes footage here. The DVD contains 8 DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. All brief and incidental save for an additional image added to the film's ending.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long