Directed by: Kat Chandler, Li Lu, Anna Mastro, Valerie Weiss
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Jeff Sparks
With “Echoes” being yet another weak new release starring Michelle Monaghan, I think I’ll start calling her “Michelle Off Again” until she stars in a good project. Unfortunately, her past handful of films have included poorly received movies like “Black Site,” “Every Breath You Take,” and “The Craft: Legacy.” While playing twins in this new Netflix series is a challenging role that she shows up for, the writing of the show makes her performance very forgettable. In the show, she plays identical twins Leni and Gina. When they were younger they would constantly pretend to be each other to get in or out of trouble. As adults, they continue this practice without anyone knowing the difference. When one of the twins goes missing, the other assumes her life to find her. The quick editing in the first episode bothered me. After the initial setup, it calmed down, which makes me wonder if the introduction to the story was a reshoot due to how sloppily it was put together. Once the editing relaxed I was able to admire the handheld cinematography which was mostly solid except for a horrible green screen effect in the last episode. As I previously mentioned the main problem with “Echoes” is its writing. It’s interesting to see Monaghan play two different characters but it isn’t anything extraordinary because there isn’t much difference between the two. One is a city girl and the other country. The only time they act noticeably different is after a big reveal late in the series which gives the character’s aspirations that were previously unknown.
Although the issue of similarity between the two is a problem, the main issue with these characters is that the show becomes so convoluted that it’s difficult to know which is which. Early on in the show, it’s revealed that the twins switch lives every year on their birthday. After a series of flashbacks that contradict the sister’s personalities in the present, I found it hard to remember who is who or more importantly who did what. Like many mystery series, “Echoes” relies on twists and reveals to keep everything going but in this show, none of them had much effect. Most of them were fine since they kept the story moving along but the main twist barely had anything that built up to it which left its believability in a gray area. Like any generic mystery, there has to be a final reveal that comes out of nowhere but in “Echoes” the final confession has zero effect on the rest of the plot. It only exists to have only one more shocking moment. With rumors of the company struggling, I wonder how many more generic shows like “Echoes” Netflix can get away with.