There seems to be a strange misconception among young, wannabe filmmakers that horror films are the easiest genre to tackle in order to get noticed. While this was very much true in the past, nowadays it’s not the easy gateway that it once was, primarily because it’s nearly impossible to come up with an original idea or a satisfying enough twist on a familiar one to warrant an entire film being made. However, this hasn’t stopped filmmakers from trying, leading to a glut of small horror pictures that merely recycle elements we’ve seen many times before. Nils Timm’s “Echoes” is such a film, where we find a young writer, Anna (Kate French), suffering from sleep paralysis. Her boyfriend, Paul (Steven Brand), who is also her agent, suggests that they go to his retreat in the middle of the desert so that she might be able to get some work done. When Paul is suddenly called back home for a meeting, she insists on staying behind. Shortly after, she finds herself plagued by visions that begin to unravel a mystery surrounding terrible events in the area, events that just might involve her loving boyfriend.
“Echoes” is the kind of flat, uninspired film that only seems to have been made to prove that writer/director Nils Timm could make one. It made no difference to him that it’s a massive pile of clichés (concluding with the worst cliché of all) or that its story makes little to no sense. The problem is that it will make a big difference to those unfortunate enough to sit through it, for they will be treated to a lazily-written film that has nothing to offer anyone looking for a little bit of thrills and chills. At the very least, viewers will be able to play the “plothole game,” where you simply add up the number of inexplicable events as the film goes on, including why someone would build a glass house in the middle of the desert in the first place, why this couple would want to go stay there (one of which has a pretty big reason to stay away), why Anna would choose to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere in her condition, and many more. It’s not that it’s a badly made film, but rather that the screenplay was simply a mess. Horror is not easy. In fact, it is one of the most difficult genres to get right. Like many eager filmmakers, Timm has learned this the hard way, but with the lesson learned, perhaps now he can go on to do something meaningful.
“Echoes” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer that remains perfectly sharp throughout the entire feature despite it being a very dark film in parts. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio is on the very soft side, a problem that has been prevalent in several releases using this type of audio, but once you pump up the volume, it becomes a perfectly serviceable track. Overall, there are no major problems to report in either area, leaving you with a mostly decent experience.
Thanks to a lazy and amateurishly-written screenplay, “Echoes” is nothing but a bland horror offering that is more likely to bore you rather than give you the slightest chill. Clichés don’t have to be a bad thing if they can be used well, but writer/director Nils Timm seems to be using them whenever possible just because he can’t come up with something more original. This leaves us with a film that we feel as though we’ve seen several time before, concluding with the ultimate insult to the audience in its last few seconds. If Timm was hoping that this would be the film to help get him noticed, we can only hope that he didn’t get his hopes up too much.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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