The Echo Game
by Jason Coffman
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Many low-budget horror films try to compensate for their lack of flashy special effects and general production value by using an overly complicated storyline, but most of the time this leads to a much bigger problem: boredom and confusion. The Echo Game, on the other hand, is a low-budget horror film with hints of a complicated mythology and unexpected ties between different characters, but takes a different approach. First-time writer/director Brian Feeney zips through the action at a pace that guarantees confusion but happily sidesteps boredom.
April Reilly (Alisha Seaton) and Casey Lin (Jeannie Bolet) are a married couple raising an adopted daughter, Sarah (Melissa Lee), and living in California. One day the police come to ask April some questions about her former lover Rachel (Angela Landis). April believes that Rachel drowned ten years earlier, but the police have information that she has been squatting in an abandoned apartment recently and has gone missing again. April’s day gets weirder when a mysterious woman visits her at work to ask if April knows where Rachel is but refuses to give April her name.
Her name is Yelena Markova (Liliya Czarina), and she returns home to face the same menacing group that attacked Rachel in the film’s opening sequence: powerful psychic Dr. Anne Cassavettes (Judy Clement) and her henchmen. April receives a letter from Rachel the next day and the chase is on. Cassavettes tracks down the happy family but Sarah manages to escape thanks to her seemingly imaginary friend. Taken to a hospital, everyone thinks Sarah is hallucinating, but as the truth behind Sarah and Dr. Cassavettes is revealed, everyone is in danger of being pulled into Cassavettes’s devious plot.
The Echo Game runs just over 75 minutes, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered and plot holes gaping. However, it’s so briskly paced that mostly that doesn’t matter— this is a low-budget horror movie, after all, and writer/director Feeney knows how to deliver what the audience expects. The practical effects are decent, and Feeney knows when to slow down and, say, take time for the gruesome murder of a mostly-nude woman for some cheap thrills before the film is put back on the rails to speed through the rest of the story. There are better ways to spend 75 minutes, but there are also certainly much worse ways. In the wasteland of direct-to-disc low-budget horror, The Echo Game is a nimble, unpretentious action/horror film that delivers the goods and gets out of your way, and that is a rare find.
MTI Home Video releases The Echo Game on DVD 27 September 2011.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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