A tidy little thriller evocative of The Shining. Good deal for those who prefer their thrillers bloodless and jumpscareless. Smart it is.
You Should Have Left
Director: David Koepp (Mortdecai)
Screenplay: Koepp (Jurassic Park) from Daniel Kehlmann novel
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Amanda Seyfried
Runtime: 1h 33m
By: John DeSando
You Should Have Left is a haunted-house thriller with two strong points: the house, set in remote Wales is ominous modernist with halls similar enough to scare you because you don’t know where you are; and a lack of bloody business and jump scares enough to concentrate on the mental stability of Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon), who has delighted tabloids with the circumstances surrounding a death.
Unmistakable is the debt the house makes to The Shining by actively contributing to the unease of Theo (Matrix, Anyone?), his wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), and 6-year old daughter Ella (Avery Essex). The changing corridors and the utter imbalance of the house’s parts are disturbing, notwithstanding the ghost-like presence of the owner, if that’s who it is.
With so much left unsaid about Theo’s past and his “sin,” the thriller and its house rely on Theo’s mind to do the scaring. He does it well enough as he throughout has been trying to write about his past to expunge his guilt and get away from his wife’s seeming adultery.
You Should Have Left is a small thriller most pleasing to intellects that delight in psychological untidiness. For the rest of us, this house in rural Wales has sharp corners hiding imbalance and supernatural presence more related to the reality of Theo’s past rather than horror for itself. Not a bad thriller for the faint of heart.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com.