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With: Kevin Bacon, Amanda Seyfried, Avery Tiiu Essex
Written by: David Koepp, based on a novella by Daniel Kehlmann
Directed by: David Koepp
MPAA Rating: R for some violence, disturbing images, sexual content and language
Running Time: 93
Date: 06/18/2020

You Should Have Left (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fearing House

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though it uses a pretty basic, familiar haunted house setup, this spooky horror/thriller benefits from crisp, unpretentious filmmaking, wasting little time on needless filler and getting right to it.

In You Should Have Left, Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) is a wealthy man with a dark past, now married to actress Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and with a six year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex). Looking to get away and spend some time together, they rent a huge house in the Welsh countryside.

Before long, strange things begin to happen. The dimensions of the house don't make any sense, and mysterious doors suddenly appear, as well as scribbled warnings in Theo's journal. But when Theo finally decides to leave, it may be too late.

Adapted (from a novella by Daniel Kehlmann) and directed by noted screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, etc.), You Should Have Left reunites the director with star Bacon; the two worked together two decades earlier on Stir of Echoes. Working within the Blumhouse template, Koepp keeps the production small, using some very simple and effective tricks to generate some genuine spine tingles.

The house itself is truly unsettling, in the way that doors and odd angles tend to obscure certain images, keeping us off-balance. In a way, its sheer physical presence is even spookier than more typical tricks like shadows on the wall or reflections that move on their own.

The human story works, too, and even as simple as it is, the three main performers fill in the blanks on a troubled family dynamic. Bacon embodies jealousy and uncertainty while Seyfried exemplifies carefree playfulness mixed with secrecy.

Certainly You Should Have Left doesn't break any new ground, but it's a fine example of a solidly creepy chiller that should please horror hounds.

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