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Fantasia 2006: The Echo

The program book makes all these wild claims about how The Echo (aka Sigaw) is the most gorgeous thing since sliced bread. If they’re to be believed, Yam Laranas, who wrote, directed, and shot the film, is a peer of Christopher Doyle in his cinematography. The praise is nigh on fulsome.

And as you no doubt knew with an opening paragraph like that, it’s pretty much accurate. The Echo is a ghost story set in a ramshackle old condo complex. It’s minimalist in cast, without ever putting too many people on screen at once; it’s one of those movies where the haunted building is perhaps the most important cast member. The cinematography has a key role, thusly. It bears the burden well. Almost every shot uses natural light, and Laranas must have had perfect timing and an unerring sense for appropriate times in order to make the long decrepit hallways and looming doorways as perfect as he did.

This is paired with a deft sense of horror. The Echo is, in fact, a pretty scary movie, which is a neat accomplishment considering that nothing ever lays a hand on our protagonist. The tension ratchets up nicely over the repeated course of a circular haunting, as if the worn patterns of the ghosts were building momentum until they must by the laws of physics break their wheel and careen into the lives of those around them.

When this played in L.A., Laranas was pretty much an instant hit. He’s signed up for a Hollywood remake, he got an agent, and from his blog (linked above) he’s pretty much on top of the world. I hope he keeps making movies with this kind of talent.

Grade: A- (and I’m not actually a big ghost movie fan).

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