Director Yam Laranas gives us an Americanised rendition
of his 2004 Filipino film Sigaw. Jesse Bradford plays Bobby, an
ex con released from prison for a noble crime (of sorts) and heading to
his deceased mother's apartment. He needs to find work and report
periodically to his parole officer to ensure he will not end up back
whence he came.
Trying to restitch his life from the point it started
fraying, he finds many closed doors or phones hung up. Not many people
want to let a criminal in their house, or offer him a job. One exception
is former flame Alyssa (Amelia Warner), who grants him attention after
some initial resistance.
Something is not right with the old pre-war building
Bobby's mother's apartment is in, however. From the dark, gothic
hallways to the creepy “super” in charge of the keys, and the agèd solo
chess player and mumbler woman on the elevator to nowhere...
His apartment also starts disturbing his sleep. Of
course, like any rational person, Bobby takes the sounds as
hallucinations then faults in the wall. Only they are not. The curve to
madness only increases and he needs help. But what's he seeing? A
spectre of domestic violence between a cop, a mother and their daughter.
tries very hard to be moody and effective, using editing and lighting
and all that good stuff to give a damn good fright. Unfortunately, much
of it rings hollow. There is no mastery over suspense (which is always
aided by subtlety) and the performances are hard to believe as well. The
film is used to dress one essential question, or even, point: the
alienated morality of the big city. Matching such a hefty proposal with
a modest budget and talent was a great ask... I'm more inclined to say
schlock can and should be done when shortages exist in production.
One of my favourite movies is Roman Polanski's
Rosemary's Baby, which is also set in a sprawling New York apartment
building. If you want to see what The Echo should have felt like,
look no further. That's not say avoid it completely—just go in prepared.
The audio mix is good and the transfer to DVD is very
clean. There are no special features.