YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Theo Conroy (Bacon) is a successful middle-aged man whose marriage to his much younger actress wife, Susanna (Seyfried), is shredding at the seams, frayed by her secretiveness, his jealousy, and the shadow of his past. In an effort to repair their relationship, Theo and Susanna book a vacation at a stunning, remote modern home in the Welsh countryside for themselves and their six-year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Essex). What at first seems like a perfect retreat distorts into a perfect nightmare when Theo's grasp on reality begins to unravel and he suspects that a sinister force within the house knows more than he or Susanna have revealed, even to each other.
Another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic and originally scheduled for a theatrical release, You Should Have Left comes from acclaimed screenwriter, director David Koepp and horror outfit, Blumhouse. While all three are based on novellas, You Should Have Left is closer to Secret Window than Stir of Echoes in terms of watching experience.
Koepp reunites for the second time with his Stir of Echoes star Kevin Bacon. Bacon plays a successful former banker, Theo Conroy who is now remarried with a young daughter, Ella after the unfortunate passing of his first wife. The much older Theo is seen suffering from nightmares and acting edgy right from the start. Could it be an underlying medical condition? Or just outright jealousy and suspicious at his much younger wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) who happens to be a Hollywood actress?
Anyway the Conroys decide to go for a short vacation in the outskirts of Wales staying in a spacious modern villa. There’s definitely no serial killer lurking around except the house comes equipped with some terrifying dreams-within-dreams nightmares and mysterious manifestations which constantly torment the sanity of Theo and the safety of Ella.
You Should Have Left is filled to the brim with loud jump scares and plenty of shadowy camera work if you are a big fan of this sort of gimmicks. Koepp however is no James Wan when you compare this to a similar possessed house horror thriller liked The Conjuring. There’s no particularly memorable scene nor a specific worthy scare that makes this flick stands out from the rest. While Koepp certainly knows how to do things the old school way, planting creepy town folks to add on to the mystery aura of the house still it doesn’t add up to anything decent in the end.
Koepp could be too busy behind the camera to notice the lack of substance and compelling elements in his script despite Bacon giving a serviceable performance as Theo Conroy, a character that struggles to differentiate between what is real and what is in his dreams just liked the audiences. Amanda Seyfried on the other hand needs a better agent or script because Susanna is not a role to showcase her talent. In fact, Ella or the child actress plays a more prominent role than her.
You Should Have Left is an unremarkable mystery horror thriller (whichever you want to call it). It’s a slow boiler that doesn’t contain a satisfying payoff despite the talents involved. All the while, the story seems to be hinting of something more sinister and supernatural. Eventually, it’s just a disappointing stay.
Should I stay or should I leave?
You Should Have Left.
Review by Linus Tee