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'STIR' FRIED
A THRILLER DONE TO DEATH

Tabulations are based on an exit poll averaging at least 300 film-goers per movie. Viewers rate the movie between 1 and 4 stars. "Audience Approval" is the percent who gave the film either 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

COMMENTS

As I went to the theater to see "Stir of Echoes," I wondered whether it would be as eerie and compelling as "The Sixth Sense," a movie that sets a new standard for cinematic ghost stories. So how did "Stir of Echoes" fare?

I was shocked by the low 48 percent Audience Approval rating the film received. There may be two reasons for this low rating. Released on the heels of the stunningly brilliant "Sixth Sense," "Stir of Echoes" suffers in comparison. Second, many viewers were put off by the ending. However, none of the 300 people we polled gave the film a rating below 2 1/2 stars, which indicates that the film has a certain degree of merit.

Moviegoers said: "I didn't like the way it ended" (many), "Reminded me of 'Sixth Sense' a lot" (many) and "Maintained the suspense throughout." (Buffalo News Staff Reviewer Shana Gallentine called it "compelling . . . despite the tired plot (the horror shelves of your local video store are covered with similar storylines." She gave the film 3 out of 5 stars.)

NEW RELEASES

"Stigmata": "Stigmata" is an exploration of religious paradoxes. Patricia Arquette is a Pittsburgh hairdresser and an atheist. Gabriel Byrne is a Roman Catholic priest who debunks miracles. After touching a rosary sent from her mother, Arquette begins bleeding at the wrists. Soon more stigmata begin to appear. Moviegoers found "Stigmata" to be interesting, earning the film a 78 percent Audience Approval rating.

Viewers reported: "Interesting look at the potential for corruption in organized religion," "Very inaccurate, according to the scriptures in the Bible" and "Too drawn-out." (News Critic Jeff Simon: "Think this is just a modern, teen-scream rip-off of 'The Exorcist'? Not so fast. As this horror number gets up a head of steam, the real shock comes from this: This may well be the first big-budget Hollywood movie ever to actively engage in religious heresy." He gave it 3 stars.)

"Love Stinks": French Stewart of television's "Third Rock" plays a successful television-sitcom writer who meets seductive Bridgette Wilson. Soon they are living together. Stewart won't marry her, so she turns into the Godzilla of girlfriends, combining insults with legal action. There is a generous smattering of sharp laughs from the oddly interesting Stewart, but not enough substance to earn the film a good rating.

Viewers reported: "All the insults got to be a drag after a while," "There were a few really funny parts and a lot of not-so-funny parts" and "Definitely wait for video" (many).

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