#REVIEW: “YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) is a successfully retired banker trying desperately to move on from his past. He takes a vacation to Wales with his younger wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and young daughter Ella (Avery Essex) to get some rest and practice mindfulness. Theo is initially impressed with their choice of secluded home in the English countryside, but his mind quickly begins playing tricks on him. And soon, the whole family is having nightmares.
There is a lot to say and not nearly enough to say about Writer/Director David Koepp’s adaptation of You Should Have Left. The Film’s title is ominous and mysterious, and it is at its best when it leans into both of those moods. We are never quite sure of what we are seeing or hearing, and as Theo goes off the rails, You Should Have Left does too. Koepp has fun toying with the audience and giving away small clues (alongside pointed commentary, mainly around the fragmented husband and wife relationship) related to the bigger mystery of Theo’s past. The Film only comes together however because of Bacon, who taps into some seriously creepy vibes. He is a tortured and damaged soul here, seething from the trauma of his past and trying his best to keep his sanity. It makes for great work from the legendary star, who shines even during the Film’s weakest and most questionable moments. Why did he trade in Movies for TV roles again?
For how quietly effective You Should Have Left is in spurts, it feels like there was potential for it to have been even better. The Film has a few jump scares – which always play differently at home versus in a theatre, but feels especially sinister given the pandemic we are living through. On the flip side, the Film lacks anything genuinely scary or unsettling, frequently trading in moments where it should bask in its creepy aesthetics for more puzzling moments of “Is this real?” The Score by Geoff Zanelli is great as a whole, but never seems to be utilized as fully as it should be. The scripting and dialogue fare even worse, with some lines landing quite badly (Bacon’s laughable line reading of “Darn it” may go down as one of the worst of 2020). And while Seyfried and Essex do well in their roles, I feel like much of their characters’ personalities were removed in favour of a leaner and meaner running time.
You Should Have Left has an intriguing hook with a handful of great moments and the kind of go-for-broke performance from Bacon that helps remind us of how great an actor he can be with the right material. And while I appreciated the mercifully short running time, it feels like they might have cut out a bit too much from the Film. If they added a bit more of that material back in, the Film likely would have been a whole lot more satisfying than what we ended up with.
Universal Pictures Canada release YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT on Digital and On-Demand
on Thursday, June 18, 2020.