Tag Archives: Kevin Bacon

You’ll Wish You Had

You Should Have Left

by Hope Madden

Most weeks there’s at least one streaming movie option that will cost you. These are ostensibly the films that were meant to be theatrical releases, as opposed to your garden variety direct-to-streaming options. The idea is that you’re paying a premium to get to see it now, rather than waiting for theaters to open up.

It’ll be interesting to see how long this tactic lasts, but one thing is for sure: You Should Have Left is not worth $20.

Always likeable, always reliable Kevin Bacon reteams with his Stir of Echoes writer/director David Koepp to bring Daniel Kehlmann’s novel to the screen.

Bacon plays Theo, a man with a past and a much younger wife (Amanda Seyfried), Susanna. She’s a sought after actress and he’s feeling a little neglected, so they decide to spend the three weeks between her shoots with their 6-year-old Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex) in a remote rental property one of them found online.

Which one found it, though?

From the early dream sequences to the small town shopkeep with an accent, an attitude and a secret to—well, hell, every single thing—You Should Have Left squeezes the life out of standard horror tropes.

Not that this is horror, really. It’s certainly not scary. I wouldn’t call it a thriller, either, assuming those have to thrill at some point. Nope, it’s just a boring, predictable waste of talent.

Seyfried, in particular, elevates her stale character, sharing a believably conflicted lived-in chemistry with Bacon. Uncharacteristically, it’s Bacon who struggles.

Theo’s internal conflict is weakly depicted, his arc equally anemic, and for that reason, his epiphany feels unearned. The actor does develop a lovely onscreen relationship with Essex, although she’s asked to do little more than look pensive.

Or maybe she was bored. Hard to blame her when Koepp works so hard to make the film tedious. Uninspired sound design and mediocre FX blend together with the filmmaker’s hum drum storytelling to betray a tiresome lack of imagination.

No way Universal believes they deserve your $20 for this.


Patriot’s Day

by George Wolf

If director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg are on a mission to salute America’s unsung heroes, they’re doing a damn fine job. After Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, they bring a similar formula to Patriot’s Day and achieve even more satisfying results.

A chronicle of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the frenzied search for terrorist bombers that followed it, the film employs a breathless timeline and confident pacing to triumphantly salute the courage, compassion and dedication of a city under siege.

As he did so well in Deepwater Horizon last year, Berg opens with quick snapshots of the many lives involved (terrorists included), efficiently creating a layer of humanity and emotional depth. The explosions are sudden and jarring, presented with a compelling mixture of chaos and carnage, as bloody limbs and shell shock bring us uncomfortably close to the suffering.

The ensuing manhunt is nothing less than thrilling, with the rock-solid ensemble cast (including Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan and a fully committed Wahlberg) illustrating the harried teamwork of first responders and government agencies.

Strong and sturdy with undeniable spirit, Patriot’s Day stands as a fitting tribute to both individual heroes and an entire city itself.




Not Much Better in the Light

The Darkness

by Hope Madden

Back in 2005, Aussie filmmaker Greg McLean set the genre world ablaze with his merciless Outback horror Wolf Creek. An amazingly disturbing and well-crafted film, it seemed to mark a strong new presence in horror.

Nearly a dozen years later, McLean hasn’t been able to reproduce that success, although he tries once again with this PG-13 terror starring Kevin Bacon.

Bacon is Peter Taylor, and while Pete and his family were vacationing in the Grand Canyon, his autistic son picked up a handful of ancient Anasi demons and brought them home.

Back at the ranch, family members turn on each other while the dog next door barks incessantly, and a once promising director falls back on tired clichés and unconvincing FX. All this in an attempt to lead us to the conclusion that something supernatural is afoot.

Once the drama in the house sets in, The Darkness becomes a wearisome riff on Poltergeist.

Since it is now mandatory in all “is it evil or am I crazy” storylines, you can expect close-ups of computer screens as the concerned and beleaguered google ridiculous phrases and uncover incredible evidence. The mom (McLean favorite Radha Mitchell) googles “strange smells” and finds a link between autism and the spirit realm. I swear to God.

This is the filmmaker who once taught us that we do not want to play “head on a stick,” and he is now contenting himself with diluted, formulaic, toothless scares? WTF?

That’s not to say that you can’t make a good horror movie without an R-rating. The Ring was the scariest movie of 2002, PG-13 tag and all. Hell, the MPAA gave Jaws a PG and that film scared every person who saw it.

It can be done, and ten years ago I would have believed a talent like McLean would be the next filmmaker to succeed.

I would have been wrong.