Considering the cost to make this one, I’m willing to cut the film some slack even if the plot is a tad familiar at times.
Echo Dr. is an interesting film for one very important reason … its budget. This independent film cost a paltry $100,000 to make—an unheard of amount for any film. To put this in some perspective, Ed Wood’s infamously bad and cheap-looking Plan 9 From Outer Space cost $25,000 in 1959 to produce. Converted to today’s dollars, Plan 9 would actually cost $202,000 to make—more than double the cost of Echo Dr. in 2014. Yet, Echo Dr. is a much more professional looking film—with decent production values and acting. Surely writer-director Patrick Ryan Sims could teach us something about how to contain costs when making a movie…
As far as the plot goes, it’s decent though a bit familiar. The film has some similarities to Westworld, the Disney film Smarthouse and, perhaps, a bit of Terminator. It all begins when Mike Foster’s rather ordinary life is disrupted when a man breaks into the family home and attacks them. Fortunately, the intruder he is stopped by the police but the scare made Mike concerned about his family’s safety. Soon, oddly, Mike’s boss offers to give him a robot—some sort of protection robot that will monitor the home along with their alarm system. The big difference is that this robot carries a gun and is willing to kill if necessary! Not at all surprisingly, the robot eventually runs amok after a power surge and the family has to try to escape the robot’s wrath. Don’t you hate it when that happens?!
I will tell you up front that this is not a great film. Aside from having a familiar sort of plot, the acting and things the actors do aren’t always perfect. The youngest child’s acting isn’t always great and the family doesn’t always behave logically in the movie—such as the mother insisting for no reasonable reason that she has to get batteries, then the teen starts whining about college costs while the robot is on a killing spree! This could be explained away a bit by the plot twists (which you’ll just have to see for yourself). But, despite a few hiccups, I do think the film is a decent little drama and is worth seeing. I particularly think that beginning filmmakers should be forced (perhaps by this killer robot) to watch the film in order to see how a movie can be made so economically. Because it has such a nice bang for the buck, I can’t wait to see what Sims is able to do with a bit more experience as well as a larger budget. Given that he has no other credits listed, this is an incredible freshman effort!
Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer