You Should Have Left
If you're currently on the lookout for a new scary movie, and this title pops up, you should probably be forewarned that this is just another example sample of more of the same. If you think of the typical haunting movie nowadays, certain marks are met over and over again, and it's frankly just getting old. I don't know why I thought this would be anything particularly different. Perhaps it had to do with that Blumhouse logo, or the two big stars involved, but one thing is for sure; this is just repeating things from other movies.
We start by meeting an age-gapped couple, Theo (61-year-old Kevin Bacon) and Susanna (34-year-old Amanda Seyfried) and their daughter, Ella (Avery Essex). Theo is haunted by horrible nightmares, often involving Ella and a strange shadow of a creepy man. Matters are made even worse with his jealousy, as Susanna is an actress who often engages in sex scenes (though it's not clear whether or not it's pornographic). Regardless of all that, the family moves into a new vacation house in Wales, found online, to get away from everything.
While staying at the house, secrets are revealed about Theo's past, explaining why people around him don't like him at all, and eventually the whole thing becomes incredibly predictable. He's often asked about the house, and whether or not he's spoken to a mysterious man named Stetler, a man who once lived there. With that said, I urge you not to check out the IMDb page for this, as the film's big reveal is spoiled very clearly there.
Anyway, much of the film has to do with the overall lingering dysfunction of the family, once Susanna reveals to Ella what her Dad's big secret is. If I say much more on the subject, it might as well be a spoiler, as there's a formula I've seen here in other movies. It borrows from so much, and I could see hints of movies like '1408', 'What Lies Beneath', 'The Others' and any number of current horror movies featuring a black-haired ghoul girl (honestly, once America got hold of the idea from Japan, it just hasn't stopped).
This one comes to us from writer/director David Koepp, who has penned a very hit or miss lineup of screenplays. On the bright side, 'Jurassic Park' and 'Spider-Man' (2002); on the dark side, 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' and 'The Mummy' (2017) - the film that both launched and annihilated the "Dark Universe" (what were they thinking?) So it's not entirely surprising that this film turned out to be very average at best.
The film is ultimately predictable, and it goes through the motions of your standard haunting/spook house film. None of the three leads were particularly interesting to me, either, save perhaps Ella who is somewhere before the age of 7 and knows what a trial is, among several other adult words and terms. She's never painted as a book smart girl or anything, just an average little girl who wants to go back home. Maybe it's personal, but I found it hard to buy into. I'm not a parent, so for all I know 5 or 6-year-olds understand the concept of a judge, jury, courtroom etc. I mean, I was playing with my Ghostbusters and He-Man action figures, myself, but I'm just nitpicking.
It honestly surprises me that I haven't seen a lower rating on this one from critics. It's a low-rated film, but if you pop over to the tomatoes, you see the audience a little more disappointed with it. This fascinates me, because as I was watching it, I kept thinking to myself "okay, now it's stealing from this movie" or "that movie", and it's very clearly unoriginal and uninspired with an ending that actually confused me quite a bit. I may not be difficult to confuse, but honesty, check it out for yourself and see if you can tell me what happened.
Again, this is just another example of a movie that, while on its own isn't terrible by any means, takes from better titles. It makes me wonder, had this had a theatrical release as originally intended, would people have more to say about it? To me, this would have worked much better if it was meant to be a straight to DVD, TV, or streaming project. One can get more out of similar titles, but if you feel so inclined to indulge your horror desires, it's a quick and easy watch, but not at all scary. The worst nightmares you may experience from it already belong to Theo.
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