‘You Should Have Left’ Review: Kevin Bacon Is Terrorized in Creepy Haunted House Horror Story with a Twist
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Something is wrong with Theo Conroy. A meditation app cannot calm his mind, which leads to jealous fantasies and suspicions. Small annoyances shake him. People look at him crookedly, his name evokes unpleasant memories, even for seemingly strangers. His wife's success makes him angry. Even his child knows that something is wrong with her “Baba”. A vacation can't solve everything, but it certainly can't hurt. Or can it? David Koepp, author of "Jurassic Park" and director of "Mortdecai", resigns from the blockbusters on which he built his career - for better and worse - and draws his attention to the little chills of "You Should Have Left" .
The chiller unites Koepp with his "Stir of Echoes" star Kevin Bacon (who also produced the film) and points to the couple's obvious affection for horror offers with nice psychological twists. In search of a little rest, Theo (Bacon), his much younger wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and their cute daughter Ella (a well-staffed Avery Tiiu Essex) head for a tricky AirBnB in the middle of nowhere. But if there is something wrong with Theo before the Conroys enter the cold Welsh accommodation, it will only get a lot worse as his mental state continues to collapse in a house that has apparently driven him crazy.
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Based on Daniel Kehlmann's popular novel of the same name from 2017, Koepp (who also adapted the screenplay) took some liberties with the original vision, some of which seem small (i.e. Bacon's character is no longer a struggling screenwriter, but a wealthy banker). and others are far too large to mention without entering the spoiler area. But the soul of Kehlmann's creepy little work stays in place: Theo is already finished, and the house is eager to transform it into terrible new forms. (Kehlmann's novel also built an ambitious backstory for the house itself, which is mentioned in the film limply and then dropped. Rest assured, this house is bad news.)
Right from the start, Koepp was designed to be disoriented. He opens "You Should Have Left" with an annoying sequence that expresses his obvious interest in threatening shadows, unusual framework conditions and dreams in dreams (in dreams?). When the Conroys arrive in Wales, both Theo and Koepp's audience are prepared for some big chills, but Koepp takes the time to go crazy and decides to introduce the house as his own character instead. (Yes, yes, it's a trope, but in this case it's a good one.)
"Seems to be bigger inside ... much bigger", Theo muses when entering and how right he is. Based on the outstanding production design by Sophie Becker and Megan Elizabeth Bell and the uncomfortable lens of the cameraman Angus Hudson, it is clear that something is wrong. The layout of the house is not only not intuitive, it is also somehow wrong: too many light switches, too many doors, too many corridors. The angles do not match, the dimensions do not match, and was this other door always there? Or this hallway? Where did this light come from? And why does food rot so quickly?
As Theo's thoughts keep turning - not all of his apparent fantasies are actually wrong - the walls close metaphorically and figuratively. Both Seyfried and Essex do a solid job (and the younger actor delivers the kind of wonderfully no-frills performance that is often in short supply), but "You should have gone" serves Bacon mainly as a shop window to help you get through different states of fear and anxiety To move in horror. Fortunately, he does it with ease and his performance increases the material, which can fluctuate between reduced and under-baked, especially since it works to the very last act, which is both nerve-wracking and strangely thin.
For most of its duration, "You Should Have Left" trusts its audience to record what they lay down as Theo plunges into an existential nightmare that focuses on the nasty architecture of the house (and his own mind). A handful of strange interactions with others add a bit of color, though it's mostly up to Bacon to bring the film's more ambitious threads together. Finally, the film collapses into less-inspired tropics (creepy-dead-lady-in-a-bathtub!) And a thin explanation for all the madness that doesn't quite make sense with everything that came before.
But if "you should have left" is at its best, it is not about finding such simple explanations, and it is leaning against the raw madness of corrosive guilt and a house designed to punish people, who dare to come within its walls. Bacon holds on to it and settles in a restless, uneasy character without worrying about making him personable or rootable - the kind of person who is left behind, and for good reason.
Universal Pictures will release "You Should Have Left" on VOD on Thursday June 18th.
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