By Leah Greenblatt
June 18, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Universal

Imagine being trapped between four walls, no feasible way to leave, the world closing in…. If you’re like most ordinary mortals, you’ve already been living in that nightmare since oh, mid-March. If you’re Kevin Bacon, you’re starring in You Should Have Left, a moody but oddly inert thriller whose title is the best advice no one in any house-horror movie ever took.

Bacon plays Theo Conroy, the kind of smug rich guy who seems entirely at ease sitting by his Los Angeles infinity pool with his much younger wife (Amanda Seyfried), a pony-haired actress named Susanna. They share a gorgeous house and a daughter, Ella (Modern Family’s Avery Tiiu Essex), who has no problem guilelessly reminding her parents of their age gap.

Neither does anyone else, from the production assistant who asks Theo if he’s Susanna’s dad to his own wife, who fondly calls him “old man.” But when the film she’s shooting moves over to London, the couple decides to carve out some quality family time beforehand at a picturesque rental in rural Wales.

What could go wrong? Only everything, of course. The place, a spare, severely modern box slathered in brick and blond wood, hardly waits a few hours to start weaving some kind of Welsh Santeria: Clocks jump jaggedly forward in time; long hallways materialize from nowhere; lights switch themselves on and off.

There’s growing tension, too, between Theo and Susanna about his past — his first wife died in the bathtub, under murky circumstances — and her present, which may have something to do with how obsessively she keeps checking her phone.

Bacon, perpetually haunted around the eyes and lean as a whippet, does his best to convey Theo’s mounting dread and confusion as the house around him steadily morphs into some kind of fourth-dimension human flytrap. He looks excellent in a chunky-knit sweater to0, like a Madewell model who only just realized he's wandered into purgatory.

But veteran screenwriter and director David Koepp (The Mummy, Mortdecai) uses so many tired tropes of the Blumhouse genre — skittering shadows, warped lenses, sudden levitations — that he might as well be mining another movie he made with Bacon over 20 years ago, 1999’s Stir of Echoes. His script is self-aware, to a point (there's a decent Whole Foods joke), but never quite meta enough to actually have fun with most of those clichés.

Even at 93 minutes, the material feels thin, and so does its moral message. But the movie's goofy, blunt-edged claustrophobia may also be its greatest gift to viewers: the chance to be grateful that the only ones haunting our own homes right now are us. C

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