You Should Have Left is a 2020 psychological horror film directed by David Koepp and starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried. It comes from Blumhouse Productions, which, if you have read my previous reviews, well, I am obsessed with them. The movie is based on the 2017 book of the same name, written by Daniel Kehlmann.
I have been hyping myself up to watch You Should Have Left. I love haunted house movies and am a horror movie fanatic in general, and the trailer got me so excited to watch it.
You don’t find the house
You Should Have Left follows Theo and Susanna and their daughter Ella who go to a vacation home in Wales to spend some quality time with each other. However, unbeknownst to them, the house has sinister intentions that will change their lives forever.
This is less of a haunted house movie and more of a drama. Sure, the house is definitely haunted, but there are other things going on here. The movie talks about guilt, the complexities of relationships and how you are never free from your conscience. The vacation home probably mimics Theo’s guilty conscience, after he does something terrible. Even though he seemingly got away with it, married someone and had a child, his past haunts him till this day. That’s where the house comes in. The house, which is definitely haunted, puts up a mirror to his face and reminds him of what he truly is and what he has done.
The house has a mind of its own. It changes itself as and when required and does everything in its power to make Theo realise his fault and make him stay. The movie reminded me of The Haunting of Hill House which is another excellent series on Netflix. These two stories are kind of similar (the series is miles better though. Go watch it if you haven’t). Although the house and its antics are troubling, the characters and their secrets are probably a bit more troubling.
The house finds you
Let’s talk about the characters in You Should Have Left. Our two central characters – Theo and Susanna are as grey as they come, albeit bordering on the darker side. Theo suffers from nightmares and writes obsessively in his journal to throw away all his negative thoughts from his brain. He has done something horrible in the past, and although he gives himself reasons to reassure himself, he knows the truth. And is unable to run away from it.
Susanna, on the other hand, is a successful actor. She has her own demons, although it wasn’t clearly mentioned in the movie. She was also not present for most of the action, which is a bit disappointing because I’d have loved to see her input into it all.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Couples are allowed to keeps some things personal. However, their relationship, although containing love, is anything but healthy.
There’s also this big age difference between the couple, which makes Theo jealous and suspect his wife. He’s never sure whether she is faithful to him, which is probably him projecting his own insecurities on her. The healthy way to get over these things is to have an honest conversation, but he never does that. Instead, what he does pushes him farther away from his wife.
We also have their daughter Ella. She’s a sweetheart who will “do anything for her father”. She is inquisitive and I felt she was more mature for her age. She also pouts whenever she’s sad or wants something and it’s the cutest thing I’ve seen in a while!
Summing up: You Should Have Left
The problem here is that, when I re-read this entire review, it read like it was a drama movie. Which is kind odd, because this is supposed to be a horror. Human relationships are scarier than haunted houses any day, but that probably wasn’t the goal here, or was it?
You Should Have Left is kind of an enjoyable movie. But I do have a few problems. There are too many dream sequences. I despise those, honestly, and there were too many of them. The problem with dream sequences is that they don’t add anything to a story and usually gets old a bit too soon. There were also a few jump scares that were a little annoying. Additionally, the movie started out a bit late as well. I felt the characters weren’t that well fleshed out. I mean, sure, we know about Theo’s guilt, but we don’t get to know enough. It’s the same thing with Susanna.
But all in all, it is an enjoyable movie for a one-time-watch.