REVIEW: ‘You Should Have Left’ squanders potential

There are interesting concepts at play in “You Should Have Left,” but sadly, it doesn’t result in a great film.

Directed and written by David Koepp, “You Should Have Left” stars Kevin Bacon as Theo, a man who is planning to go on vacation with his wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and her daughter Ella (Avery Essex). The vacation home they choose is a rather modern looking one in a rural area of Wales.

At first, it seems like the perfect spot to get away, with the house being spacious and the beautiful countryside out the window. However, as time goes on, details about Theo’s past and current relationship issues cause strain. On top of that, strange things start occurring in the seemingly perfect house.

“You Should Have Left” starts with some promise. The characters seem more competent than your average horror protagonists, and it appears like their arcs will lead to something interesting.

Plus, it’s noticeable from the beginning that this isn’t just a haunted house with an evil ghost as the antagonist. It doesn’t take long to realize the house sort of bends space and time.

However, as the movie goes on, the goodwill built up by the initial intrigue is chipped away. Aside from a few peculiar moments with the house with a couple jump scare attempts thrown in, “You Should Have Left” kind of grinds to a crawl in the second act.

There’s a good deal of screen-time where, despite tempers rising in the relationship between the two main characters, it feels like not much is really happening. It doesn’t help that the dialogue between the two leads is lackluster, either.

Courtesy Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures.

The third act does ramp things up a bit just because the situation becomes more chaotic. In all fairness, one can at least say there’s some entertainment value with Theo trying to protect his family in this seemingly other-worldly house.

More to the movie’s credit, I do think both Seyfried and Bacon were giving solid performances. While the script doesn’t have enough to make them a more memorable on-screen duo, the two make the most out of the material they have. Bacon especially does good work in the lead role as a man who has a lot weighing on his mind.

Sadly, the movie doesn’t earn many visual points. Koepp and his crew don’t really don’t really do enough here visually to make this a real mind-bending type of experience. Despite playing with physics, time and space, the movie always feels kind of grounded. It’s not bizarre enough.

Earlier this year, the film “Gretel & Hansel” was released, and while I had issues with that movie, there was no denying that the house the movie took place in and the overall set design created a strange, paranormal atmosphere. That’s the type of setting this movie really needed, but didn’t pull off.

“You Should Have Left” offers some interesting ideas, but they never come together as one would hope. It has a solid cast, but the movie doesn’t offer enough in other areas to be a better thriller. 2.25 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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