A couple seeking a restful vacation on an isolated edge of the world only to discover that secrets demand a reckoning … and travel with you.
I think it’s accurate to assume that we all have secrets. Some may be as small as a tattoo you got in high school that you hid from your parents or as big as hiding your true identity, ahem… Rachel Dolezal. However, just like the aforementioned secrets eventually, the truth will reveal itself and sometimes in ugly ways. Secrets are like shadows and like the movie says, you can’t runaway from them.
You Should Have Left, based on the Daniel Kehlmann novella of the same name, is an eerie cautionary tale of lies and secrets. Featuring a clean minimalist aesthetic, you are really able to pay attention to the details in every scene. Starting with a relatively straight forward introduction to our characters, we witness some conflict right away. We are given some older man married to a much younger woman commentary but the film only nibbles on the topic momentarily and never really follows back upon it. While being set up perfectly and shot very well, the story sort of lumbers along before anything really exciting happens. It has its moments early on that provide an eerie and unnerving allure but the feelings aren’t conveyed much on screen; more confusion than fear. Our main character seems to be more interested in secrets his spouse may have than the supernatural occurrences that are happening around him. One could argue that it makes the experience more realistic. If you’re a skeptic, you might ignore the events initially. Nonetheless, the fear and panic that the film wants to build come entirely too late. By the time our character starts to take everything seriously, you’ve already figured everything out. The story itself is great but it sadly falls short in the horror department. We’re given a history of the house they are staying in and the things that happen there to give the house a haunting presence or personality. Unfortunately, it just felt as if he was playing around in a Tardis. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is not terrible but it wasn’t able to do what it set out to do, which is scare you. It stands on its drama and mystery but that’s about it. I don’t hate the film but I don’t love it either. I think it could be very creepy to a specific audience but doesn’t quite have the broad appeal to scare a room full of people. It’s rewatchability is at a medium.
Plot & Pace
The story follows Theo, Susanna, and their daughter, Ella during a getaway in Wales. Feeling insecure about his marriage because of the age gap and the dark cloud of his previous marriage, Theo is desperate to free his mind of his current surroundings. The couple book a stay at a huge secluded house on the countryside of Wales. After being there a day, Theo starts notice things aren’t quite right with this house but is he the only one who notices? Also, his young actress wife spends an inordinate amount of time on the phone and it makes him uncomfortable. Already having menacing dreams, Theo is losing grip on reality and must face his demons in order to move forward. This movie is a slow burn. It moves rather sluggishly and it’s payoff isn’t as satisfying as you’d think.
Characters & Chemistry
Theo (Kevin Bacon) never truly felt terrified to me despite his circumstances. As I said previously, he seemed more concerned with his marriage than anything else. Amanda Seyfried as Susanna was great. Seyfried’s portrayal seemed effortless. The age gap dynamic between the two is able shine through even with them only focusing on the topic momentarily. Both of them were great with Ella (Avery Essex). Theo had almost this wise old man relationship with her while Susanna was the fun one that she trusted more.
You Should Have Left is now available on VOD. Enjoy and stay safe.
Director: David Koepp
Writer: David Koepp
Runtime: 1h 33m
Rating: 3 out of 5
Observing the human race since 1988.