Is title a warning to audience?

By Tom Von Malder | Aug 01, 2020
Photo by: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Kevin Bacon hols Avery Tiu Essex, who plays his daughter in "You Should Have Left."

Owls Head — You Should Have Left (Universal, DVD or digital, R, 93 min.). Having watched the film, I now consider the title a warning to the viewer as well as to main character Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon of TV’s “The Following”). After a rather boring, domestic relationship first half, the film finally gets to its meat, that being an unearthly house that is not only larger on the inside than the outside –not a TARDIS, though – but also able to add rooms and corridors, and attracts dark souls.

We know Theo has a public past, because he is weary of being recognized. It is not until midway in the film we learn that that has to do with the death of his first wife, a death he stood trial for but was acquitted. Theo’s new wife is Susanna (Amanda Setfried), an actress who is younger than he is and they have a young daughter, Ella (Avery Tiu Essex), whom I assume is Susanna’s, although it is never made clear.

Theo clearly is possessive of Susanna, a situation not helped when he shows up at her set and is denied entrance, but is able to hear her acting a sex scene. That is followed by the two having sex in the car, presumably because Theo has to exercise his manhood. The film delves into this more as Theo is constantly suspicious that Susanna is being unfaithful – apparently there was a Max in her not-too-recent past – even after the family rents a house in Wales, as Susanna will be filming in London in a few weeks.

The house is where the slight horror elements come in, as it appears able to dredge up images from the past and make them real. The house conjures up rooms, corridors and even stairs where there should be none. More to the point, someone writes in Theo’s journal, “You should leave. Go now.” Of course, he ignores it and when a future message reads “You should have left,” it already is too late.

The film would have been better with more of the house, even a building up of its history. As the local grocer asks Theo, “Has anything happened yet?” The house needs more “personality” than writer-director David Koepp gives it.

This is personal-favorite Bacon’s first film since 2016 and Koepp previously directed Bacon in “Stir of Echoes.” The film is based on a novel by prize-winning German literary sensation, Daniel Kehlmann. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 2 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Black Rainbow (1989, Arrow, Blu-ray, R, 103 min.). A much better thriller is this new-to-Blu-ray release from writer-director Mike Hodges (“Flash Gordon,” “Get Carter”). In it, Rosanna Arquette (“Pulp Fiction,” “After Hours”) stars as religious medium Martha Travis, who might be a scam artist who only pretends to talk to the dead until she suddenly isn’t and starts forecasting deaths. Her alcoholic father (the great Jason Robards of “All the President’s Men” as Walter Travis) certainly leans toward the scam side as he sets up their one- or two-day appearances throughout the rural American South.

During one performance, Martha tells a woman she is speaking to her husband, but the woman insists her husband is alive. However, the man is killed later that night in a manner described by Martha. It appears he was assassinated because he was about to become a whistle blower about unsafe factory conditions. The incident sparks the interest of small-town newspaper man Gary Wallace (Tom Hulce of “Amadeus”), who becomes convinced that the assassin will target Martha next. The reporter follows her to the next town, where Martha predicts five more deaths during her performance.

The release, which is a new restoration from the original negative, comes with two audio commentaries: one by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan; and one by writer-director Hodges. There also is an archival making-of featurette that includes interviews with Hodges, who talks about casting and his inspiration for several story elements, and producer John Quested (19:19). Other archival materials include interviews with Robards (2:23, but the first minute is all on the film), Arquette (2:17) and Hulce (2:22), plus featurettes “8 Minutes” (8:22), “Disasters” (2:12), “Seeing the Future” (2:19) and “Behind the Rainbow” (20:32). Grade: film and extras 3 stars

Haven (2004, MVD Visual, Blu-ray, R, 98 min.). From the makers of the Academy Award-winning “Crash” and “Dallas Buyers Club” comes this strangely structured would-be thriller set on Grand Cayman Island. The film features the late Bill Paxton (“Aliens,” “Twister”) as Carl Ridley, apparently involved in shady money laundering, and Orlando Bloom (the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy) as island native Shy.

While the film starts with Ridley’s story, it is abandoned at the 27-minute mark for Shy’s story, which dominates the rest of the film. Only late in the film do some of the characters attend the same party, but the only real connection to the two stories is a secondary character, who is the son of the man who handled Ridley’s cash and a friend of Shy’s who actually appears to be in love with Shy. That character is Patrick, played by Lee Ingleby (TV’s “Inspector George Gently”).

With te Department of the Treasury agents after him, Ridley flees to Grand Cayman Island with his high school-age daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner of “Anna Nicole”) and $1 million in cash. Patrick’s father (Stephen Dillane of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” as Mr. Allen), who apparently tried to sacrifice Ridley to the Feds back in Miami, already is set up on the island.

Shy, who got his name when he stopped talking for five years after witnessing violence in his youth, is in love with Andrea Sterling (Zoe Saldana of “Avatar,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”), the daughter of his boss (Robert Wisdom of TV’s “Supernatural,” “The Alienist”), who would never approve of their dating, being of different social classes. Andrea’s brother (Anthony Mackie of the “Captain America” films) does disfiguring violence to Shy, when he realizes Andrea and Shy have had sex. During the four-month jump in narrative, an emotionally lost Andrea has taken to a lot of casual sex.

Meanwhile, Fritz (Victor Rasuk), whom Pippa met on her first night on Grand Cayman, has seen Ridley’s money stash and talks local gangster thug Richie Rich (Razaaq Adoti of “Doom,” “Amisted”) into robbing Ridley.

The film, written and directed by Frank E. Flowers (“Swallow”) also plays with time a bit. The only bonus feature is a behind-the-scenes look (3:25). Grade: film 2 stars; extra ½ star

First Snow (2006, MVD Visual, Blu-ray, R, 102 min.). “First Snow,” directed and co-written by Mark Fergus (writer-producer of TV’s “The Expanse”), also features a couple of good actors in a bit lost narrative, like “Haven,” and a clairvoyant, like “Black Rainbow.” The clairvoyant is played by J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash,” TV’s “Veronica Mars”), who encounters flooring salesman Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce of “L.A. Confidential,” “Memento”).

Starks, who has dreams of selling vintage Wurlitzer jukeboxes, encounters car trouble on one of his sales trips. While waiting for the repairs to be done, he sees Vacaro (Simmons) and asks for a reading. Vacaro tells him not to bet against a certain basketball team and that he will get unexpected money from Dallas. Starks still thinks Vacaro is making things up, even though he abruptly ends the reading and gives Starks back his money. When the team Vacaro named wins and Starks’ boss (Luce Rains as Roy), who had been in Dallas, suddenly wants to go in on the jukebox business, Starks realizes he misjudged Vacaro and hunts him down to ask why he stopped the reading. Under pressure, Vacaro finally says that Starks has not much time left, but will be “safe until the first snow.”

This makes Starks investigate his past in an attempt to discover anything that might threaten his life, whether it be a lazy valve in his heart or the former friend he abandoned and who just got paroled from prison. That friend is Vincent McClure (Shea Whigham of the new “Perry Mason” series), who blames Starks for his incarceration. The two begin a potentially dangerous game of tag.

Also in the narrative are Piper Perabo (“Coyote Ugly,” “Angel Has Fallen”) as Starks’ girlfriend, Rick Gonzalez (TV’s “Arrow”) as Andy Lopez, who blames Starks for his being fired, and William Fichtner (“Crash,” “Armageddon”) as Starks’ friend and co-worker. Perabo has a nothing role, but Gonzalez is fine in his brief moments and Fichtner, as usual, is a warm, soothing presence.

The film can be taken as a meditation on what would you do if you knew when you would die. Would you try to elude fate or try to make amends for any past transgressions? Here, the story is just not that compelling, even as it turns into a crime thriller in the second half.

Extras include a “Final Omen” featurette (3:31); behind-the-scenes looks (7:11); an interview with Simmons (1:20); and interviews with Pearce and Perabo (6:54 combined). Grade: fine and extras 2 stars

Bloodstone (1988, Arrow, Blu-ray, NR, 90 min.). One may recall that “Romancing the Stone” was a take-off of “Indiana Jones.” Well, “Bloodstone,” a very mild comedy, is a cheaper take-off of “Romancing the Stone.” Its only pluses are that it was shot entirely in India and it gave some Western exposure to prolific Tamil actor Rajinikanth.

The film opens with the funeral procession of a princess in 1221 in the Kawamaran Region of India. During the service, her father blesses the bloodstone, a giant ruby, with her blood. The stone is to bring good fortune to the good and bad times to the wicked who possess it. The modern story picks up with Paul Lorre (Jack Kehler of “Men in Black II”), who has stolen the bloodstone in London, traveling on the same Indian train as newlyweds Steph (Anna Nicholas) and Sandy (Brett Stimely of “Watchmen” film). To pass customs, Lorre slips the bloodstone into Steph’s tennis bag. Up until a week ago, Sandy was a policeman, but he hardly acts like one in the film.

Rajinikanth plays reckless taxi driver Shyam Sabu, into whose spare tire the ruby falls when the newlyweds’ luggage is removed from the trunk. However, when Steph is eventually kidnapped by those trying to find the bloodstone for Ludwig Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame of “License to Kill,” “Ghostbusters II”), Sandy enlists Shyam’s help in finding her, not realizing that Shyam has the ruby that is the reason for his wife’s kidnapping. Trying to provide comic relief is Charlie Brill (TV’s “Silk Stockings,” various “Star Trek” projects) as bumbling Inspector Ramesh. However, most of the humor, like pigeon droppings and bad taxi driving, is sophomoric.

The film has sufficient action, but the comedy bits are very mild. Its big failing is that total lack of chemistry, or real acting for that matter, but the two newlywed leads. Part of the problem may be that Sandy’s voice seems a bit off. In fact, it is because producer/co-writer Nico Mastorakis had actor David Soul (“Starsky & Hutch”) dub all of Sandy’s lines. Some of Stimely’s dialogue can be heard in the many outtakes Mastorakis includes in his Covid-19 style iPhone self-interview among the extras (28:31).

Other extras include two audio commentaries: one by director Dwight H. Little (“Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers,” “Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home”); and the other by journalist Brian Reesmon. There also is a video essay look at the career of Rajinikanth (22 min.) and an image galley that moves from image to image too quickly. Grade: film 2 stars; extras 3 stars

Deadwater Fell (Acorn TV Original, DVD, NR, 191 min.). This four-part mini-series presents star David Tennant (“Doctor Who,” “Broadchurch”) in a different light, as Tom Kendrick, a suspect in the horrific fire that took the lives of his wife (Anna Madeley as Kate) and three children in their small, tightknit Scottish village.

The Kendricks seemed like the ideal family – he is a physician; Kate is a school teacher -- but one night a fire breaks out in their home. An unconscious Tom is the only survivor. However, disturbing details emerge during the investigation, such as the fact that the door to the children’s room had been locked and the family members have needle marks in their arms, meaning they were drugged so they would not wake up. Fellow teacher Jess (Cush Jumbo), who was Kate’s best friend, is desperate to find out what really happened. Jess’s husband is Police Sgt. Steve Campbell (Matthew McNulty).

The show, created by Daisy Coulam (“Grantchester”), uses multiple flashbacks that support the two conflicting theories: that Tom did it, despite being drugged himself, or that his depressed wife did it. While good, the series does not match “Broadchurch.” The only bonus is a 4-munite behind-the-scenes look. Grade: mini-series 3 stars; extra ½ star

Also in release:

Hawaii Five-0: The Final Season (CBS/Paramount, 5 DVDs, NR, 15 hours 41 min.). The set includes all 22 episodes of the 10th and finale season of the remake series, starring Alex O’Loughlin as Lt. Cmdr. Steve McGarrett and Scott Caan as Det. Danny “Danno” Williams.

As the season opens, the team is still reeling from the shots fired at their headquarters. Among the familiar faces McGarrett sees are his mother Doris (Christine Lahti) and imprisoned hacker Aaron Wright (Joey Lawrence). Helping close out the crime cases and the final battle against the Yakuza are Capt. Lou Grover (Chi McBride), Tani Rey (Meaghan Rath), Junior Reigns (Beaulah Koale, Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) and Quinn Liu (Katrina Law). The special crossover episode with “Magnum P.I.” brings Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez).

The more than 50 minutes of bonus material include the “Magnum P.I.” crossover episode in which Junior has been kidnapped; the cast, writers and crew looking at the season’s biggest moments; an interview with O’Loughlin; deleted scenes; extended scenes; and a gag reel.

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction (RLJE Films, 2 Blu-ray or 2 standard DVDs, NR, 252 min.). The mini-series, which first aired on AMC in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series, is hosted by filmmaker James Cameron, whose love of science fiction is evident in his “Avatar” films. The series includes interviews with Steven Spielberg (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”), George Lucas (the “Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (“The Martian,” “Blade Runner”), Christopher Nolan (“Tenet,” “Interstellar”), Will Smith (“Men in Black,” “I Am Legend”), Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Predator,” “Terminator”) and Bruce Willis (“The Sixth Sense”).

Each of the six episodes has a theme – alien life, space exploration, monsters, dark futures, intelligent machines and time travel – as they explore science fiction’s roots, futuristic visions and viewers’ fascination with its ideas. Bonus features include extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Schwarzenegger.

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