There are still several spots left for this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon. If you’re interested in joining in, check out this post.
Theo (Kevin Bacon), his wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), and their daughter Ella (Avery Essex), take a trip in the Welsh countryside where their vacation house is not as it seems on the outside.
For a long time I stayed away from any film in the horror genre. However, over the years I have found that supernatural horror is a niche that I do enjoy. When the trailer for You Should Have Left dropped just two weeks ago, it seemed like a film right up my narrow horror film alley. According to the trailer it had supernatural elements, some thriller pieces, and Kevin Bacon. Those are ll things that I enjoy in a film, so I gave it a chance. I was right that is was the kind of film I would enjoy, unfortunately it was better on paper than it was on screen.
Everything about You Should Have Left falls way short of being bearable. Firstly, the characters have little to no actual development. Theo, Kevin Bacon’s character, is completely defined by the death of his ex-wife. He does not go through any kind of growth as the film goes on, nor is his ex-wife’s death really expanded on. By the way, he was tried for and found innocent of his ex-wife’s death. You would think that would be a larger part of the Theo’s character but it hardly registers throughout most of the film. Susanna, Amanda Seyfried’s character and Theo’s much younger wife, also gets minimal development in the film. To be honest, other than Susanna is an actress, I could not tell you anything about her. Bacon and Seyfried, two great actors, are truly wasted in this film.
It doesn’t help either that two-thirds of this movie is used to set up this big mystery about the house Theo, Susanna, and their daughter Ella (Avery Essex), are staying in while on vacation. An attempt is made to create a mystery about the house, at the same time the film is also trying to build up the “troubled past” of Theo mind you, but like the human characters, building the mystery around the house simply falls flat. Even as the credits roll, little explanation is provided about the place, other than some vague remarks by a local shopkeeper (Colin Blumenau). It’s not until the final thirty minutes or so before the mystery is even begun to be explored. With little time left, the film feels like it is sprinting towards the end, finding a way to wrap up the “arc” for the characters and gets lost along the way.
For a film billed as a supernatural horror and thriller, You Should Have Left has very little of any of those elements. The scare attempts are amateurish at best; the supernatural is a little science-fiction-ish but with little explanation it’s hard to even determine which one it is; and the thriller is completely reliant on the mystery element and since that falls short, so too does the thriller aspect. I am honestly surprised a film this abysmal was made by a filmmaker with such a storied history as David Koepp.
I thought You Should Have Left was BAD 😦 I am usually fairly optimistic when it comes to reviewing films. Even in widely panned movies like the recent Artemis Fowl I can often manage to uncover some sort of redeeming quality buried within the mound of bad. Regrettably, I can’t find anything in this film that I really enjoyed. The characters were flat, the set-up took too much time, the mystery wasn’t that gripping, the reveal wasn’t even that good either, and the payoff simply didn’t exist. In a perfect world I would not have taken the time to watch this at all. The next best scenario is I would have seen this in theaters rather than on-demand because there is no price worth the admission for this film but at least in the theater, I would have payed less for such a poor experience.
Cast & Crew
David Koepp – Director / Screenplay
Geoff Zanelli – Composer
Kevin Bacon – Theo
Amanda Seyfried – Susanna
Avery Essex – Ella
Colin Blumenau – Shopkeeper
Lown Ann Richards – Welsh Woman
Joshua C. Jackson – Production Assistant – Susanna’s Movie
Eli Powers – Susanna’s Assistant