Kevin Bacon achieved cult success with 1990’s Tremors, but he also starred in another film that somehow didn’t achieve the same lasting success, despite being one of his strongest performances. That film is Stir of Echoes (1999), an unjustly ignored supernatural thriller adapted from a novel by by Richard Matheson. It had the misfortune to hit theaters the same year as The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project.
Now Bacon is reuniting with Stir of Echoes writer and director David Koepp in You Should Have Left, a forthcoming psychological horror film from Universal, co-produced by Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions. The official trailer just dropped, and we’re getting some strong The Others meets The Shining vibes from this tale of a haunted house that doesn’t want to let its occupants leave, which bodes well for the final film.
The film is adapted from a 2017 German novella of the same name by bestselling author Daniel Kehlman. It’s written in the first-person style of a diary belonging to an unnamed screenwriter attempting to write a sequel to an earlier hit film. With the studio pressuring him for a draft, he rents a house and takes his wife—an aging actress for whom work is becoming scarce—and four-year-old daughter on a long vacation in hopes of finishing the script.
As the screenplay develops, so do strange occurrences in the house, with the narrator reporting harrowing nightmares. Eventually the narrator finds it difficult to determine whether he is still dreaming or awake, and finds a message in his handwriting telling him to “get away.” His wife (who has been having an affair) denies having written it, and the narrator soon realizes he is trapped in the house. Whenever he tries to leave the living room, for instance, the door he goes through always leads him right back there. Can he figure out how to escape with his family to ensure their safety?
It looks like Koepp’s adaptation will preserve much of the book’s premise, with some necessary departures to accommodate a different medium. Per the official premise:
In this terrifying, mind-twisting tale, a father fights desperately to save his family from a beautiful home that refuses to let them leave. Theo Conroy (Bacon) is a successful middle-aged man whose marriage to his much younger actress wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) is shredding at the seams, frayed by her secretiveness, his jealousy, and the shadow of his past.
In an effort to repair their relationship, Theo and Susanna book a vacation at a stunning, remote modern home in the Welsh countryside for themselves and their six-year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Essex). What at first seems like a perfect retreat distorts into a perfect nightmare when Theo’s grasp on reality begins to unravel and he suspects that a sinister force within the house knows more than he or Susanna have revealed, even to each other.
The trailer opens with Theo urging Susannah to agree to an extended family getaway with their young daughter Ella (Avery Essex). They arrive in Wales and things seem pretty perfect at first. The scenery is gorgeous, and the house is large and has some very nice high-end finishes. Theo particularly appreciates the quiet.
But the weirdness soon sets in, starting with Ella noticing a moving shadow when she’s trying to play shadow puppets in bed one night. And as Theo starts exploring the house, he notices some oddities. There are a puzzling large number of light switches, and the living room is five feet longer on the inside than on the outside. “How does that work?” Ella asks. “It doesn’t,” he responds. Then one of the local merchants discreetly asks Theo if anything has “happened” yet. “People have always stayed in that house,” he tells Theo. “Some don’t leave. The right ones usually find the place. Or maybe it’s the other way round. The place finds them.”
Theo and Susannah realize neither of them sent the other the link to the home’s rental site. Then things begin to escalate. Theo’s mirror image seems to move separately from him, and he finds a warning scrawled in his journal: “Go now.” Even though the couple has soured on their no-longer-perfect getaway, they don’t heed the warning right away. The next message Theo finds: “You should have left. Now it’s too late.”
We learn from Ella that a lot of people “hate Daddy,” and from Susannah that there was a trial, Theo was acquitted, but “a lot of people didn’t believe him.” We are not told the nature of Theo’s alleged crime but the dead/not dead corpse-like woman in the bathtub probably means he’s got a dark side. Susannah is increasingly suspicious, too: “You must be guilty of something.” One thing becomes increasingly clear: “The house chose me,” Theo concludes.
You Should Have Left debuts on June 19, 2020 on VOD. One might assume the VOD release is the result of movie theaters still being shuttered due to the ongoing coronavirus, but Deadline Hollywood reports that there were never plans for a theatrical release—more evidence of a shifting movie ecosystem as streaming platforms proliferate.
Listing image by YouTube/Universal Pictures