The Echo (2008) is one of those films which sounds good on paper, but unfortunately fails to deliver on its promises. Promoted as a tense and creepy thriller, this mystery / horror by Yam Laranas and starring Jesse Bradford and Amelia Warner, is heavy on pseudo shocks but light on pretty much everything else.
Bobby (Bradford), just released after serving a prison sentence, is determined to go straight. Moving into his late mother’s old apartment in a period block in downtown Manhattan, he gets a job at a local garage run by the well meaning Hector, and tracks down his old girlfriend Alyssa (Warner) who reluctantly begins seeing him again. However after a series of strange incidents in his apartment, Bobby and Alyssa realise that something malevolent and evil is living in the block and isn’t about to leave without a fight.
This film had all the potential of being a good little chiller. Set in a suitably creepy, run down Manhattan period apartment block, peopled with equally odd residents à la Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Two sexy young kids as the main protagonists, who in theory could have made a seriously hot couple. And amongst the producers, Roy Lee, who has been responsible for producing a host of hits including the infinitely superior The Woman in Black (2012).
However one can’t help feel when the final credits roll that the film you’ve just watched wasn’t really the one the filmmakers intended. The setting appears to have been shot in a series of mottled and half lit tones of off brown, whilst the interiors of the apartments look depressingly old fashioned throughout. Though their dodgy plumbing and crumbling walls make for one of the main plot points, a few leaky cisterns do not make for particularly convincing paranormal phenomena. As for the young couple, Bradford seems to believe that horror acting consists of looking moody and put upon whilst Warner, though injecting slightly more life into her performance, is wasted in a role which amounts to little more than window dressing. Which leaves you with the producers. Alarm bells should always ring when you see that a film requires twelve producers – what can twelve produces do on one film? After seeing this limp excuse you could be forgiven for asking whether they were actually doing anything at all.
The film’s one saving grace is the Cuban actor Carlos Leon who plays Bobby’s boss Hector. An accomplished actor both on film and the Broadway stage, Leon’s other great claim to fame is being the father of Madonna’s daughter Lourdes – but hey, we won’t hold that against him. Here he actually makes his character believable and, dare I say it, nice – but we all know what happens to the nice guys in horror movies!!
Despite its best efforts The Echo leaves you with little more of a brief frisson of excitement, rather than a lingering echo of disquiet. As such it will likely be forgotten almost as soon as the DVD player is switched off.