STIR OF ECHOES
Making of a Ghost
Since the core of the Stir of Echoes
story revolves around psychological horror, rather than physical,
Koepp wanted a disturbing ghost, but not one slathered in blood.
He points out that the tragic character of Samantha, portrayed
by Jenny Morrison, isn't even "bad or mean. She's just disturbed,
unable to rest. Therefore, we wanted her to be psychologically
disturbing, more than physically disturbing."
Thus, Koepp and director of photography Fred Murphy chose to shoot
the actress, when she was performing in her ghostly persona, at
the rate of six film frames per second.
"Ghosts in movies tend to have halos or glows or be hazy
or something," Koepp explains. "They have been done
many ways. But for this film, we didn't have a large budget for
visual effects, for one thing, and more importantly, I felt we
should alter her in-camera as much as possible. Therefore, we
came up with the idea of shooting her at six frames a second.
But having the actress move normally at six frames, she would
sort of jerk around like the Keystone Cops. That's why we hired
an actress who had lots of ballet experience. She was able to
move slowly, at about a quarter the speed of how she would normally
move. While she did that, we shot her at six frames a second.
The way that movement came out, she has a slight jerkiness to
her movements, but in a very subtle way. It is the kind of disturbing
movement you can't exactly put your finger on. I thought the concept
was very effective. On film, there is an ambiguity about the ghost
that is scary. She isn't normal, but she's not drenched in blood
either. In the end, I felt it was the typical lesson of filmmaking
when trying to be scary: make it mainly suggestive."
Indeed, filmmakers captured hours of footage of the character,
some of which was too disturbing to include in the movie, according
"We shot her shaking her head around and her hair becomes
a blur that ends up very disturbing, and looks too scary. It sort
of takes away from the main idea that she is disturbing, but not
necessarily a monster," Koepp adds. "We kept enough
to inflate audience imaginations, but not so much that it took
away from the very real story we were trying to tell."
Kevin Bacon, whose character interacts the most with the film's
unique apparition, points out that the look, and the whole creative
approach to the supernatural character, works mainly because it
is so far removed from traditional cinematic portrayals of ghosts
and the supernatural world in general.
"I could feel and really get into her presence during my
scenes with the ghost," says Bacon. "I felt she was
compelling - much more interesting than some big, lurking ghoul.
The story we tell about how she died and became a disturbed ghost
is totally realistic and interesting - you end up caring what
happened to her. The effect, in my opinion, is what real horror
is all about. I've done slasher movies before (Bacon appeared
in the original Friday the 13th early in his career) and
this approach is much more interesting. I find great horror more
in films like The Shining, The Hunger or Rosemary's
Baby than those slasher films. This movie is much more in
that tradition. It has an interesting story and offers a realistic
backdrop for this ghostly appearance.
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