It's a second-tier “Shining,” but it's got Kevin Bacon
In the past three months spent almost exclusively in my home, I had a half-joking thought: “This would be a hell of a time to discover your house was haunted.”
OK, not that I actually believe in all of that, but it does raise the question whether now is the ideal time for a story about being trapped in a house where something sinister is going on.
Enter “You Should Have Left,” a new haunted house thriller from horror-churning studio Blumhouse, which has brought us a range of lower-budget fare from “Get Out” to “The Purge.”
Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) is a wealthy man, that much we know. His wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), is an actress. Their daughter, Ella (Avery Essex), is impossibly adorable. Y’all know what happens to a family that seems to have everything in a horror movie, right?
The origins of Theo’s wealth are a bit hazy, but we can see by the lifestyle they live that the family is well-off. Theo also has a jealous streak related to his beautiful (and younger) wife, as well as a mysterious incident in his past that follows him like a shadow.
Feeling stressed out, Theo takes the family to a beautiful house in a remote part of Wales. The house is a stunning work of modern architecture, gorgeously designed and ripe for peace and quiet. Then strange occurrences start to happen, because, duh, look at the name of the movie!
“You Should Have Left” was written and directed by David Koepp, who has more than a few blockbusters on his screenwriting resume, including “Jurassic Park.”
The story here? It’s a little thin and more than a little reminiscent of “The Shining.” A husband, wife and young child alone in an isolated space as things start going sideways. OK, this movie isn’t in the same stratosphere as Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece, but the influence is there, down to the hallway tracking shots.
And Bacon is actually up for this performance, gamely portraying both a man descending into madness and a loving father desperate to protect his child.
Aspects of the story get head-scratchy, but the house becomes its own character, an unfolding labyrinth that would feel at home in “The Twilight Zone.” The movie is also a tight 90 minutes and actually feels a little abrupt, although it’s best to not have too much time to think about what’s happening onscreen.
The thing that is really missing from a movie like this is an audience. Horror and comedy are the two genres that get the most boost from being in a theater, and this one would have played better with an audience than at home.
This one is not on par with Blumhouse’s last release (and one of the last wide theatrical releases this year), “The Invisible Man,” but grading on a cabin-fever curve, it’s a stylish creeper and probably worth the rental.