Have you ever dreaded going to sleep? 

Sleep and dreams can make for a fun horror movie. Our minds are pretty weird and sleep forces us to be vulnerable. We’ve all had the falling dream, the naked dream and such. I’ve always enjoyed horror movies about people with sleep problems, whether it’s insomnia or recurring nightmares. The psychological terror is both horrifying and tantalizing.

Echoes is a low budget chiller from noted horror distributor Anchor Bay. Written and directed by Nils Timm, the film follows an up-and-coming writer Anna (Kate French, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill) who suffers from sleep paralysis. Stuck in bed, with every sound amplified by her inability to move, Anna takes medication to help. Faced with writer’s block, she goes along with her manager/boyfriend Paul (Steven Brand, Secrets and Lies) to his glass-walled cabin in the desert. When Paul gets a call from work and leaves Anna alone, she starts to experience some scary visions at night.

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What I liked about this movie the most was its desert setting. Lots of horror movies take place in the forest (perhaps inspired by Snow White, Red Riding Hood and other characters tasked to determine whether branches are branches or something else). But few look at the sparse isolation of the desert. With the hot days and cool nights, with the threat of getting lost and dying looming out there, the setting is ideal for a tense psychological thriller. Also, the use of the glass-walled cabin is interesting. While at first I thought it was random, it did tie into the plot.

Director Nils Timm does have an eye for visual flair and the film looks quite beautiful. The opening scenes, showing Anna go to sleep, find horror in the woman’s night routine. A third act dust storm creates tension. Timm is a director who could go far if he gets the opportunity to hone his skills.

Kate French is another major asset to the film. Known for guest roles on a wide variety of TV series, she does a pretty good job in Echoes. Her performance feels authentic for the most part (especially when she’s onscreen alone). But there are some awkward moments, considering her lack of chemistry with Steven Brand. Although I admit that I found Paul to be rather icky for dating a client, especially one whose career is practically in his hands. Steven Brand tries hard to be sympathetic but his character is almost cartoonishly condescending to Anna. I hope that Timm was making a point about how guys dismiss girls for being crazy or overreacting but there’s a lack of nuance. Paul and Anna are frustrating to watch together and I think that was the intended reaction.

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Echoes does have a problem with dialogue. It feels rudimentary, like it’s a first draft. I usually don’t expect Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde-level dialogue from a horror movie but I found the lines here to be distractingly stilted. Also, the story is interesting but I’m not sure it was executed properly. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the movie had several good ideas and avenues to go. Echoes ended up going down the most conventional route.

I liked Echoes. Even though it’s not going to change the horror genre or become a major classic, it deserves to be seen by people who like horror films. It has some missteps, but it’s a brisk 85 minutes long and has enough to enjoy for its runtime. Echoes is currently available to rent or buy on iTunes and it’s available on DVD and blu-ray.

'Echoes' is Slight but Entertaining
Echoes is enjoyable and well-shot, but it won't change the genre.
Rating 7
Pros
  • Nice visuals and direction
  • Solid acting from star Kate French
Cons
  • Awkward dialogue
  • Conventional twists
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
72%

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About The Author

Manish first came to love horror through Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Roman Polanski's Repulsion. He still sometimes has to sleep with the TV on after catching the latest scary flick. Manish loves ghost stories, psycho-thrillers and gory horror-comedies. You can check out more of Manish's writing at his personal blog "Mathur & the Marquee" or on twitter @hippogriffrider.