As Kevin Bacon coolly strummed his acoustic guitar before a Zoom roundtable interview, the six degrees of separation between me and this seasoned actor dwindled to zero. Bacon met with The Battalion, among other student publications, in promotion of his latest horror film, “You Should Have Left,” released through VOD on June 18. While Bacon maintained a casual approach, he frequently paid homage to his previous productions, his character inspirations and the social movements which brought him to his newest role.
The film centers around wealthy, retired banker Theo Conroy, a man with a mysteriously tragic past, who retreats to the idyllic Welsh countryside with his wife Susana (Amanda Seyfried) and young daughter Ella (Avery Essex) to rekindle familial intimacy. This haven distorts into hell when Theo's grasp on reality unravels as his past comes back to haunt him.
Bacon spoke on the toll of embodying Theo, mentioning the necessity of performance-training to lose oneself in an unsympathetic protagonist.
“Every role that I've ever played has been part of the preparation to get where I am to be able to play this guy,” Bacon said. “But, specifically for this movie, I really relied on crime documentaries to model my character after. In these docs, you see two sides of one person, especially with documentaries on serial killers. I’ve seen docs with Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez with police surveillance tapes that help claim aspects of an interesting character.”
In the four decades of Bacon’s career, he has starred in films across genres. However, Bacon claimed a proclivity for horror and a fascination with the genre’s evolution since the 1980s.
“Horror is a fascinating place for an actor to go,” Bacon explained. “The first horror movie that I did was ‘Friday the 13th,’ and that kicked off this genre of pretty formulaic slasher movies. Now, I think there's more pressure on movies to be more elevated and to say something about the world or the human condition with character-driven pieces.”
Delving more into the cultural baggage reflected in cinematic statements, Bacon acknowledged how this particular movie fits into the current climate of activism. Given the capital and power that once shielded Theo from facing the consequences of his past trespasses, Bacon articulated that this movie raises questions of accountability in today’s Me Too era.
“We live in this time with a lot of people’s pasts coming up and haunt them with the digital footprints that everybody has; not the least of which was seen with the Me Too Movement,” Bacon said. “One of the questions that we're raising has to do with increasing abuses of power and accountability. My character tells his daughter that everything came easily to him, which raises questions about things coming easily for a certain kind of section of the population, and things coming harder for a lot of other people. ”
“You Should Have Left” is informed by the events and culture that encompasses the artists who made the film exist within. Bacon’s interview presented the concept that this film could not exist without the social framework of other movies, historical events and movements that precede it.