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Author Topic: YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT (2020)  (Read 188 times)
Warpig
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« on: June 22, 2020, 09:13:01 AM »

I'm beginning to associate "It's like a Twilight Zone" episode with "This movie is shit, but we have to associate it with something, we can't just call it 'unwatchable dreck'."

"You Should Have Left" is unwatchable dreck.

Kevin Bacon gets paid to sleepwalk through a completely nondescript story that gives him nothing to do, as really not much happens in the film anyways.  The story is that Bacon's character (whose name I don't remember) is a GENERIC RICH GUY, who has stood trial for a murder that he was acquitted of, but people don't really believe it.  He's married to a Hollywood starlet played by Amanda Seyfried (probably because ChloŽ Sevigny is already too old to take these roles) who clearly loves him because money, as he is much older than she.  They have a young child, a little girl named "Ella", whom I only know her name because they call it during the film approximately 10 million times.

Anyway, pressures of the May/September romance and the need to 'get away' for a while leads the family to take up residence in a house in Wales to conincide with Seyfried's next acting gig in London.  They rent out an antiseptically designed mega house some distance from a local village.  It's an intentionally bewildering maze of generic rooms and doors where the family starts to encounter some supernatural activitiy.

Early on, a creepy pedo-looking dude in an old ballcap menaces the daughter in the form of a ghostly appearance in her room, he makes an appearance later in the film, but by that time the film has already done it's damage to the viewer.

You just don't care.

You don't care about Bacon's character, you REALLY don't care about Seyfried's character and you sort of care about Ella, but only in the very generic (cheap) propensity to not want bad things to happen to little girls.  But you really don't ever have anything to worry about.  This movie has no idea what it wants to do, what it's point is, and how to get there.  It's like a bunch of people sat around and came up with a bunch of "oooh, wouldn't it be creepy if....." without first saying, "Here's why we should give a shit about what happens".

There are a billion red herrings in this film that really don't do anything.  There's a little interaction with the villagers, who are boring, there's some interaction with the pedo-creeper, which is boring, there's some 'Silent Hill"-like room to room changes, but they're boring, and there's a little freaky house changes, which are also boring.  Oh, and there's a journal that he writes in where writing he didn't (oir did he?) do appears in.  And its boring, because it doesn't do anything.

It's boring because anyone with any intelligence knows the truth 10 seconds in: of course he really killed the ex-wife, and that makes him a bad guy, deserving of punishment.

That's it.  That's the entire film in a single sentence.

Nothing happens to the girl, nothing happens to the current wife, nothing really happens to Bacon, other than he can't leave the house.

No narrative drive, no overall point, no character changes, just.....Kevin Bacon is a bad guy who deserves everything that happens to him.

Dumb, pointless, boring.

1 out of 5, especially since this is one of those 'early release' movies that cost me a cool $20.
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2020, 09:35:34 AM »

Too bad - the trailer looked good.
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2020, 01:15:14 PM »

Caught it last night, me 2 cents....

PUTTING children into danger of death (or worse) is perhaps one of the cheeziest, cheapest ways to generate heat for a film.  While there are notable exceptions - JAWS, ALIENS, THE SIXTH SENSE, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS - as a general rule, if a movie resorts to killing or endangering kids it's a sign of shitty film making.

Which brings us to YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT, a professionally made but wildly derivative haunted house flick which generates virtually all of its scares by threatening a kid. 

The gimmick is essentially a house that can not exist in the real world - ie, it's bigger on the inside than the outside and seems to be inescapable - is now a fairly old trope. 

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS, BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, HELL HOUSE LLC, 1408, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, THE CONJURING, THE DECENT, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999) and even THE SHINNING feature situations where the characters simply can not get out of the featured location, even when logically they should have been able to.  And that's just some movies that use the gimmick.  In books, there's a huge number of houses that can't be escaped, going at least back to Lovecraft.

But just because it's well worn gag doesn't necessarily make it a bad one, and YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT does an effective job of setting up the how/why the characters are in the house, and the fact that something bad is going on.  It's a fairly simply made, classic feeling kind of ghost story, not entirely unlike Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING.  And that's a good thing as far as it goes.

Hollywood vet David Koepp - who wrote and directed it - has made his bones going all the way back to JURASSIC PARK, and the film manages to stay fairly light on its feet, in part to its smallish budget ($4 million).  He gets a great performance out of the kid (Avery Essex), which is important because so much of the film is centered on her character.

Koepp previously directed Kevin Bacon in STIR OF ECHOES, and Bacon does a fine job in this film.  While Pig is quite right in that we suspect almost from the start that his character "did it" I think Koepp expects that.  In other words, the film's not ruined by us suspecting that he has a dark past.  Bacon swings from exuding menace to wild fear in very nuanced, professional ways. 

What does ruin the film ultimately are the twin calamities of relying completely on us being worried for the kid, or alternatively Bacon worrying about the kid, and the fact that so many other movies have done the same gimmick better.  The film succeeds in making you worried about the kid (and to a lesser extent Bacon), but it's really not much different then getting a reaction from an audience by showing a needle go into an eyeball, or a razor blade cutting open a finger.

Of course you'll react to seeing such things.  Some flicks - like THE THING and THE EXORCIST do have moments that generate tension from doing exactly that.  And of course Dali's Un Chien Andalou is famous for being the first to exploit/experiment with generating fear from such visceral images.

But the difference is that those aforementioned Hollywood movies do not rely solely on them to generate fear.  In YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT, it's the opposite - without the fear of having an innocent kid die, there simply is no movie. So while my wife hid her eyes for the back 20 minutes of the show, it was only because of the desire not to see a kid smeared, not out of real fear.

SPOILER ALERT......

There's also one other glaring problem, and it too is a question of morality.  Simply put, the movie's actual plot revolves around Bacon's character having a dreadful, horrible, secret.  One so bad that the general public actually hates him for it, and one that the evil that resides in the house ultimately traps him for.  Yet it is revealed that his character never actually did kill someone, rather merely watched them die.

I'm not even sure that's a legal crime, much less a moral one.  If watching someone OD without helping them is enough to get you trapped in a haunted house for all eternity, then what's happening to all the murderers and rapists?  There's never a chance for redemption or forgiveness in this story, and considering the relative low nature of the sin, that's pretty unforegivable. 

This film is the haunted house equivalent of cutting off the hands of someone who steals a loaf of bread to feed their family.  Which isn't very satisfying, esp coupled with the 90 straight minutes of endangering a kid.

BOTTOM LINE: 2 "there's literally a dozen better movies dealing with the same thing" out of 5
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