Horror is one of the toughest genres to make truly exciting and scary for an audience. You have movies like “The Exorcist," or new releases like “The Conjuring" that really make the most of the genre. Then you have movies like “You Should Have Left” starring Kevin Bacon, Amanda Seyfried and newcomer Avery Essex that mistake walking in dark hallways to be terrifying. The story follows ex-banker Theo (Bacon), his wife and actress Susanna and their young daughter Ella wanting to get a break from certain horrific events going on in their lives at a Welsh country estate. When they arrive at this estate, they start to notice certain abnormalities in the house that send them all into a tailspin.
When you hear a premise such as this, there’s a lot to hope for in your viewing with the experience. What we get is an unfortunate, bland attempt at horror-filled thrills with loud noises, many walks down dark hallways and characters that make one stupid decision after another. In fact, there is one decision in the third act that is so dumbfoundingly stupid, I had to rewind my screener. Where most of the blame needs to be placed here is on director David Koepp. Koepp is someone who has been in the Hollywood scene writing a variety of projects all the way from Mission Impossible, 2002’s Spider-Man, War of The Worlds, Angels and Demons, and Inferno. He even directed one of my personal guilty pleasure movies, Premium Rush.
The only benefit I can give is that with this being Koepp’s second collaboration with Bacon (the first being 1999’s “Stir of Echoes," which is MUCH better) they try to take this material as seriously as possible. This seriousness particularly works in the third act, where big revelations occur and the more “horrific” elements come to light. With practically no score and the simple sounds of people walking around corridors creates an absolutely chilling atmosphere. While a palpable feeling of dread does help the viewing experience, I just can’t see past the ludicrous decisions made by these characters. Naming some of these decisions would include spoilers, so I will avoid that by saying; if you have seen ANY basic horror movie, you’ll be able to figure out exactly what I mean.
In response to COVID-19, many films (this one included) have been sent directly to streaming for the rental price of $19.99. For that price, there is absolutely nothing in me that can recommend you pay your hard-earned money on it. Now, that’s not to say when you’re eventually scrolling through Netflix (where this movie will end up going) you may get some mild chills if you choose to watch this. With that being said, I want to give more of a PSA on why you should seek out those other movies mentioned above. In the lineage of great horror movies, the best are the ones that make your skin crawl long after the credits roll. "You Should Have Left" is unfortunately one of those that pushes the genre back in the potential it could have.