Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) is a successful middle-aged man whose marriage to his much younger actress wife, Susanna (Amanda 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.
A friend of mine sent me the trailer for You Should Have Left and said to watch it and tell him what I thought about it. Usually, I don’t like to watch trailers for movies too much anymore, as I find that they can give away a lot of details about the plot and show some of the best scenes in the film, lessening the impact and surprise of the actual film. But, I figured I would give it a watch and see what I thought.
After watching it, I had to admit that I found it to be genuinely intriguing and looked like a return to form for Koepp. Best known for his script work on excellent movies such as Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, and Panic Room, I was hoping that this latest film of his, which he also directed, would be a return to form for him after the less than stellar Tom Cruise-lead The Mummy film back in 2017. Well, in a massively disappointing twist, You Should Have Left was awful. It’s without a doubt his worst film in many years.
It starts off decent enough with a creepy atmosphere that is built up right off the bat as we watch a young girl seeing weird things happening in her bedroom, with the ominous title card popping up shortly afterward. Long, dark hallways and the cold of the night is captured beautifully by cinematographer Angus Hudson, making for a chilling feel.
Where the movie falters mainly, however, is its screenplay. It’s a film with a running time of just ninety-three minutes including credits, and forty minutes of that running time is wasted. We see many scenes of Kevin Bacon’s character Theo and Amanda Seyfried’s character Susanna settling into their massive new home and getting accustomed to things.
Susanna will take their young daughter Ella out for walks while Theo stays back in the house and writes journal entries. Theo eventually suspects Susanna of cheating on him after he discovers that she has two cellphones, which leads him to discreetly look at her messages while she is in the bath. Scenes like this happen back to back with no story progression. After a while, it became incredibly frustrating when I realized that the entire film was essentially building to nothing.
After the forty minute mark, it felt as if Koepp finally realized that he had to do something of interest with this story before it was over, so he made the third act feature Kevin Bacon hallucinating and walking around seemingly never-ending corridors. It’s not only headache-inducing, but it’s just boring to watch. Not to mention the actual ending itself barely makes any sense. It’s one of those endings where you can tell the filmmaker’s thought it was much deeper and thought-provoking than it actually is.
This is not a wholly terrible movie though. The performances are actually quite strong, namely from Bacon and Seyfried. I personally found Seyfried to have the strongest performance in the film. She is asked to act with just her facial expressions at times and pulls it off greatly. She almost makes it look easy. It was great to see her deliver her all here, but I just wished that this great performance was in a movie deserving of her talent.
Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the opening few scenes were a little bit interesting and started out promising enough. It has some atmospheric and clever cinematography at times, but when you boil it all down, those two positives aren’t nearly enough to form a great movie. At the end of the day, all movies need to tell great stories, and this one simply didn’t.
You Should Have Left is a boring and convoluted mess due to its bland and uneventful screenplay that wastes its strong cast and ultimately leads nowhere.
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