★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
There’s no question that the protagonist of this highly effective chiller is experiencing paranormal events, but the film takes an unexpected direction, resulting in a strongly recommended effort.
Directed by Brian Avenet-Bradley and Laurence Avenet-Bradley
One of the finest independent horror releases this reviewer has had the pleasure of seeing this year is Echoes of Fear, a film that begins as a supernatural chiller and then takes an unexpected turn. It’s a beautifully crafted, well-acted offering from married codirectors Brian Avenet-Bradley and Laurence Avenet-Bradley that maintains an eerie vibe throughout its running time and that has picked up many well-deserved film festival awards.
Alisa (Trista Robinson of Purgatory Road  and The Human Race ) is a young woman who inherits the house of her recently deceased grandfather (Norman Zeller of Brian Avenet-Bradley’s Malignant ). She and her boyfriend Brandon (Paul Chirico of Godzilla  and the TV series Grimm and Escape the Night) plan to clear the place out and resell it, but he is only available on weekends, leaving Alisa to do the bulk of the work by herself, and to discover the mysteries and terrors of the house on her own.
Alisa begins to hear sounds, and see things, and she is not alone. For example, a plumber abruptly leaves without explanation after investigating a crawlspace under the house. Sickly neighbor David (veteran character actor Marshal Hilton of Primal Rage: The Legend of Konga  and The Raking ) doubts that anything is amiss, but luckily Alisa’s friend Steph (Hannah Race) offers to stay with her and try to figure out what the supernatural entity wants with Alisa. Things get decidedly darker from here on out.
The Bradleys build suspense in the classic supernatural fright-fare manner of slowly revealing layers of information and increasing tension as creepy goings-on escalate from a random sound or shadow here or there to much higher stakes. When Alisa explores the large house and its basement and crawlspace areas, both alone and with Steph, the filmmakers wring maximum suspension from these scenes. I highly recommend avoiding learning anything more about Echoes of Fear than what I have already discussed, but suffice it to say that the solid third act goes to highly unexpected places, to great satisfaction.
The script is smart and the characters are well developed. The majority of the film focuses on psychological and supernatural horror, with some occasions for terrific practical effects and makeup work. Laurence Avenet-Bradley’s plum cinematography wonderfully navigates the interior of the house, from its large open rooms to the claustrophobic lower levels, and offers some intriguing exterior shots, as well.
The performances are all solid, but Robinson is outstanding as Alisa, nailing each of her character’s myriad emotions, from frustrated girlfriend dealing with her grandfather’s death and his home while her boyfriend nonchalantly leaves her to do most of the work while looking forward to reaping the financial benefits, to frightened but determined young woman aghast at the puzzling things she has seen and heard but determined to find out why they are happening to her, and beyond.
Many fright-fare fans are tired of reboots and sequels, and Echoes of Fear is the type of original project for which many of those folks clamor. It gets high recommendations from me, and has secured a spot on my list of top 10 favorite horror films of this year.
Echoes of Fear recently screened at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, and has upcoming film festival dates at Hell de Janeiro in Brazil and the Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival, after which it receives a wide release in the United States beginning in Los Angeles on October 16, followed by screenings in Atlanta and New York, and then across the country through November. Horror fans can bring the film to their town, no matter where they live in the United States, for free. To do so, or to see where it’s playing, visit https://www.tugg.com/titles/echoes-of-fear. The film’s official website is www.echoesoffear.com.