The atmosphere of You Should Have Left is its biggest selling point. It’s not as chilling as you’re hoping it will be, but the house itself is unsettling.
The psychological horror film toys with much more light than darkness. It’s an aspect of the film that’s mandatory with its utilization of shadows and how shadows factor in to the overall story.
Not knowing what’s around a shadow-infested corner or what’s behind a door at the end of an elongated hallway comes close to establishing the tension You Should Have Left is aiming for.
But the design of the house feels a little too on the nose. It’s interesting in a sense, but also somewhat lazy.
The entire film is built around Theo Conroy being troubled by his past. He resorts to meditation and a feelings journal to get him from day to day.
He’s overcome with vivid nightmares on a nightly basis and the simplest of things like calling a guy to look at a broken thermostat give him anxiety.
The trailer reveals that he was previously married and his last wife died in a bathtub. There was a trial where Theo was found innocent, but the entire ordeal has left him with a PTSD of sorts.
Their vacation house plays on Theo’s disorientation with reality. He’s constantly getting lost in rooms that weren’t there previously.
Down in the dark, locked basement is an overflowing bathtub that he doesn’t want to address. All of it is like locking things away deep down so you don’t have to feel or talk about them.
This traumatic incident from Theo’s past has imprisoned him in a sense and this house is doing the same thing.
Everything in the film has a familiar tone and comes off as too similar to material both David Koepp and Kevin Bacon have covered and done better in previous projects. You Should Have Left is basically a soft reboot of Secret Window, which Koepp also directed.
Koepp eliminated the screenwriting aspect from the novel to try and make You Should Have Left a worthwhile effort, but it’s just more of the same.
Theo Conroy’s journey throughout You Should Have Left is almost identical to Mort Rainey’s in Secret Window. The difference is Secret Window started off with potential and lead into a weak ending. You Should Have Left is bland from beginning to end.
Moments in You Should Have Left that should be scary, unusual, or intriguing are just played out horror movie tropes. Intimidating shadows on the wall with no source, lights that won’t turn off, Bermuda triangle hallways where time passes differently than in reality, doors appearing in places that previously didn’t have them, doors slamming on their own, mirror and window reflections with delayed or alternate reactions, and foreseeable jump scares are all part of the attempted scare tactics of You Should Have Left.
They fail to entice and seem like nothing more than antiquated stereotypes. Its stale qualities paint Koepp in this ignorant light; like he has no idea what horror fans are looking for these days.
Performances in the film are mostly fine. Kevin Bacon pours everything into his portrayal of Theo while Amanda Seyfried is believable as his working actress wife Susanna who is having a love affair with her phone over everyone else.
The Ella character is obnoxiously unbearable though. It has less to do with Avery Tilu Essex’s acting and everything to do with how Koepp chose to write her. Ella is a brat that jumps on furniture and constantly disobeys her parents. She never listens and tries to act innocent and sweet when she screws up.
You are rooting for this house to gobble her up in some doorway that leads to nothing except an empty abyss filled with children who have misbehaved.
Maybe it’s just bad timing and a coincidence, but You Should Have Left almost wants to capitalize on the luxurious house from 2019’s Best Picture Oscar-winner, Parasite, while colliding with the uncertainty and the head games from The Lodge. The film is a flimsy excuse for horror with scares that never land and an ending that you could guess from the trailers alone. You Should Have Left tries to be this twisty and clever thriller, but has to settle for being a lethargic labyrinth of predictability. In the case of You Should Have Left, you should have watched something else.
You Should Have Left is now available on most streaming outlets, but it is a dollar cheaper on Amazon Prime right now.
- Its atmosphere.
- The house’s design.
- Kevin Bacon
- It’s a waste of time.
- Not scary in the slightest.
- Too predictable for its own good.