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Echo (2008)

-Review by Nic Brown-

When it is killer against killer, the lines between right and wrong, good and evil, become blurred. Mark Cantu’s film ECHO introduces us to Darren Stensland (Jason Lee Boyson) who is a killer. He doesn’t do it for pleasure; he kills for money. He is a professional hitman working for organized crime in San Antonio. He is cold and calculating, but it isn’t personal with him, it’s his job. Outside of his work he leads a normal life, living with his girlfriend Theresa (Caitlin Williams). His working world of murder is completely separate from his personal life, until his path crosses that of “The Angel of Mercy” a serial killer who believes he is saving his victims.

 

When Darren completes his latest assignment he doesn’t realize that the man he was hired to kill was already marked to die. The Angel of Death had chosen Darren’s mark as his next target. The serial killer is enraged by this intrusion and by the fact that Darren has robbed not just him, but his victim of the salvation that comes with being tortured and killed. The Angel of Mercy fixates on Darren, but his goal is not to simply kill the man. He sees himself in this professional killer. So he begins to systematically destroy Darren’s life.

 

Mark Cantu’s ECHO is a refreshingly original take on the serial killer genre. Darren, while an empathetic character, is by no means your typical “hero”. The Angel of Death is able to deconstruct Darren’s life with frightening speed and efficiency and soon the film changes from a game of cat and mouse to a psychological battle of wills between two killers. Will Darren unravel what it is that The Angel of Death really wants or will he be the killer’s next victim in both body and mind?

 

Jason Lee Boyson gives an outstanding performance, conveying at first a detached calm, cool nature that soon becomes a manic paranoia as The Angel of Mercy gets into his head. Caitlin Williams should also be noted for her portrayal of Darren’s girlfriend Theresa. Williams brings real emotional depth to Theresa's character as she copes with the changes in Darren that begin tearing the couple apart.

 

ECHO is an intelligent film that doesn’t just go for the easy scares of a serial killer and his victims. Instead, ECHO relies on the audience’s involvement in the characters. The film also has surprisingly little violence in it, although when it comes, Cantu does not spare the buckets of blood to create a realistic horror effect. So if you have the chance, check out Mark Cantu’s ECHO and perhaps you can figure out who is really in whose head in this psychological thriller.



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