You Should Have Left (2020)

You Should Have Left (2020) Cover

Universal/Blumhouse's latest horror film You Should Have Left from writer/director David Koepp is an adaptation of the 2017 novella of the same name by author Daniel Kehlmann. The movie, starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried, was originally meant to be theatrically released but this lackluster horror film is hardly worth the price of rental at home. This is an uninspired and contrived film that has little to offer beyond a collection of horror tropes loosely assembled together in service of a story that clearly deserved better.

The screenplay by Koepp, who has previously penned some of the most influential films of all time, is surprisingly rushed and decisively flat. At a terse 1h 33m runtime, the movie never provides the time for its characters or ideas to fully develop in any sort of engaging way. Instead, the movie is spent mostly exploring the relationship between the boring main characters and providing hackneyed and uninventive jump scares. The vision for this movie feels far too over-simplified and it doesn't help that there isn't much by the way of suspense or emotion throughout most of the film. Bacon and Seyfried try to make the most of their roles, but it's evident that the film does not really give them a lot to do. This could have been a better film, especially perhaps if it were approached in a different way; the unique themes of guilt and paranoia may have worked better with a more artful approach. As it stands, You Should Have Left has a strong story going for it, but it's squandered in what is a completely underwhelming cinematic take.

Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried, both of whom are otherwise seasoned performers, put up their best onscreen but their performances feel watered down by the direction of the film. Bacon, who previously collaborated with director David Koepp in Stir of Echoes, plays the more interesting character Theo. There was a lot more to explore with this character - specifically, many of the emotions he faces as a result of his turbulent past. However, the script mostly glosses over these parts of his character, using them more as plot devices rather than complex emotions worth diving into. As it stands, in fact, the movie feels far too unambitious to actually have any intention of diving deeper into these characters. Hence, it's difficult to ever feel emotionally invested in their fates.

The majority of the film can best be described as uninteresting - it's about as empty and hollow as the house featured in it. The characters are too shallow, there isn't enough tension, and the approach toward the story is never satisfying, making for an overall underwhelming and rushed experience. Koepp's film simply lacks vision and ambition, both of which seem necessary in making this otherwise fresh and thought-provoking plot come to life. That being said, the movie is never completely insufferable and it has moments of genuine mystery, but it's hardly enough to make it feel sufficiently convincing or interesting. The end result is a muddled and forgettable film that never lets its plot come together in any sort of engaging or even coherent way. Simply put, you should have left this movie long before the credits rolled.

Final Verdict:You Should Have Left has an interesting premise, but squanders it on a thoroughly uninspired and hackneyed cinematic take.