For all those obsessed with Mark Z. Danielewski’s House Of Leaves, the newest trailer for Amanda Seyfried and Kevin Bacon’s psychological house of horrors film gives all the same vibes. You Should Have Left is the perfect quarantine movie with all the right scares. Room dimensions don’t make sense. Extra space where there shouldn’t be, hallways to nowhere, doors that disappear, and endless amounts of existential dread are all critical factors in House of Leaves. It also shares more than a passing resemblance to the internet fiction piece The Dionaea House. If you haven’t fallen down that rabbit hole, here’s the link.
That web fiction story is similar to House of Leaves in that it’s told from several different perspectives, across time, and in many different mediums. A cobbled-together story of blog entries, text messages, and emails it is bizarre and lengthy. It is terrifying. I am instantly reminded of both of these fictional pieces. One key component of the You Should Have Left Trailer is a brief exchange between Bacon and Seyfried. Both insist the other sent them the listing for the house. In reality, it appears the house chose them.
In Dionaea House, the concept is the house chooses it’s victims like a Venus Flytrap(which is where the name comes from) and lures them in. When Kevin Bacon’s character starts seeing messages written in his journal that he should leave. It is the equivalent to what happens to both the Dionaea House inhabitants and House of Leaves dwellers. The longer they stay the more they are tainted by the otherworldliness of the house. There is a ticking clock in those walls.
You Should Have Left is based on the novella by Daniel Kehlmann. In the novella, an older writer, his younger actress wife, and their daughter travel to a secluded vacation home. He slowly loses his grip with reality as weird things begin happening all around him. Both Theo(Bacon) and his wife have secrets. Those secrets threaten to destroy them just as much as the house. The house has a way of pushing those secrets to the surface, but it may be too late. The story relies heavily on your imagination to fill in the gaps. That space provides the reader with the freedom to believe anything and everything that is happening to Theo(Kevin Bacon). The characters are complex, but the real star is the house. The same is true for this film by Blumhouse Productions.
As much as I would love a House Of Leaves movie, You Should Have Left isn’t that. It does have some of the same essential elements, though, and that is enough for me. Seyfried and Bacon are excellent. Legendary director and writer David Koepp has proven himself time and again with thrillers like Stir Of Echos and Secret Window another brilliant writer gone crazy story. The source material is ideal for intelligent horror watchers. It’s out June 19th on VOD everywhere. What better way to watch a movie about a house that won’t let you leave then in your own home? I guarantee you will start getting out the tape measure and questioning every shadow.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.