Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which a person, either falling asleep or awakening, temporarily experiences an inability to move, speak or react. It is a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, characterized by complete muscle atonia (muscle weakness). It is often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations (such as an intruder in the room) to which one is unable to react due to paralysis, and physical experiences (such as strong current running through the upper body). One hypothesis is that it results from disrupted REM sleep, which normally induces complete muscle atonia to prevent sleepers from acting out their dreams. It’s terrifying shit, but does it make for a good horror film?
Echoes follows Anna Parker. An attractive author that passionately exudes a No-Nonsense sort of vibe to all of those around here. She suffers from sleep paralysis, and if that doesn’t suck enough by itself, she’s also struggling with her first big script. Her boyfriend/manager offers to take her away to an isolated property in the desert for some peace of mind. But what Anna finds is anything but peaceful, and now she must separate what is happening in her dreams from reality.
It’s a neat idea, and one that I don’t recall being tackled often (or at all). Beyond that idea though, are some decent production values along with a cast that is (for the most part) entirely capable of delivering some solid performances. On the surface, there isn’t much that Echoes does wrong. There are some decent jump scares sprinkled throughout, a couple of tense scenarios, and plenty of mad creepy eyeballs rolling around beneath closed eyelids. Seriously, that shit looks nuts. But then you begin to see things coming from a mile away. The horror/thriller blueprint is strictly followed and ultimately drives Echoes into rather Vanilla territory. There is even an excellent opportunity to break the mold and throw the audience for a loop towards the end of the film. I thought it was going to happen….but no. Echoes is content with keeping it on cruise control. Hands positioned at 10 and 2, not taking any unnecessary risks, and certainly not making any unplanned stops.
While Echoes seems to be doing everything in it’s power to keep itself safe – nothing can escape my wrath 👿 In all seriousness, there are some goofy sound effects here and there that can definitely kill the vibe for an educated listener. Then there’s the finale. No spoilers here, but come on people. It’s 2015. Just because it’s easy and dirt cheap doesn’t mean we should be using awful CG effects at every turn. Any shock, or feeling of vindication was completely overshadowed by my focus on the effects. That’s a shame, but is becoming more and more common.
Got a date night coming up? Perhaps you or your significant other aren’t big horror fans, but would like something capable of delivering a good jump in order to seal the deal. Echoes could do that for you, but don’t go in expecting much else. It’s not about what it does wrong…but more of what it fails to do at all.
A very original and creepy idea are kept tucked away deep inside a nice safe box. The inability to leave that box puts Echoes in a position where it is far from “must see”. Still though, it is entertaining and certainly worth a watch on a stormy evening. You know, if you find yourself with nothing else to do.