Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfriend drop straight to streaming in Universal’s Blumhouse Production

You Should Have Left

Source: Universal / Blumhouse Productions

You Should Have Left

Dir/scr: David Koepp. US. 2020. 91 mins.

In You Should Have Left, a young Hollywood actress played by Amanda Seyfried and her older rich-partner-with-a-past (Kevin Bacon) decamp from Los Angeles with their young child to an unlikely black modernist box in “Wales” to get away from it all, but some reckonings you just can’t avoid. David Koepp’s peculiar psychological thriller comes aground in the “valleys” of New Jersey, subbing for the UK.

If it never quite delivers on its promise of cheesy scares, neither does it really try for true psychological thrills with enough conviction.

Universal is becoming a dab hand at shifting its theatrical schedule to streaming. Such an expert, indeed, that it reverted to age-old studio tricks of giving critics a couple of hours to watch the latest Blumhouse Production before lifting a reviews embargo. The studio knows, and we know, that nobody is releasing their crown jewels direct to VOD right now. This is a cost-saving exercise on a film which simply, sadly, just didn’t quite work out as planned. There are some interesting ideas behind You Should Have Left, which is based on a best-selling German novel, but not enough to keep Koepp himself interested enough in developing them. Bacon, an enduring VOD stalwart, will ensure some streaming action for this formulaic double-hander, but it is not the type of film that could be accurately described as premium content.

There’s a certain style to You Should Have Left. It opens with a man, Theo Conroy (Bacon) who is so plagued by nightmares he even inserts himself inside his daughter Ella’s (Avery Essex) bad dreams. He’s married to beautiful actress Suzy (Seyfried, good with what she’s given) who spends a lot of time on her phone and is alternatively slippery and vacant. Theo has a past, and Suzy is clearly enjoying a fuller present than Theo realises. Under pressure, they go to Wales for a holiday. A local shopkeeper straight out of Little Britain is a clear clue that it’s all going to go horribly wrong for everyone, viewer included.

Seyfried is 34 while Bacon is a sprightly but undeniable 61. That’s quite an age difference and much remarked upon in the film, but it’s also something of a feint. Her job, how they might have gotten together, his past, are all a bit vague, even when Suzy tells her six year-old-daughter that daddy’s first wife accidentally died in a bathtub. Soon the holiday home is sprouting basements and hallways which are only visible to Theo, and a mysterious Mr Stetler is roaming the halls. The nightmares continue and Theo’s meditation tapes add a spooky commentary on proceedings.

You Should Have Left is efficiently chopped into three half-hour acts. The first is set in Los Angeles; the second sets up “Wales”; the third is the circular denouement and disintegration. If it never quite delivers on its promise of cheesy scares, neither does it really try for true psychological thrills with enough conviction.They should have gone one way or the other. Or perhaps left, as the title urges. And definitely left Wales out of it.

Production company: BH Productions

Producers: Jason Blum, Kevin Bacon, Dean O’Toole

Screenplay: David Koepp, from ‘Measuring The Void’ by Daniel Kehlmann

Cinematography: Angus Hudson

Production design: Sophie Bocher

Editor: Derek Ambrosi

Music: Geoff Zenelli

Main cast: Kevin Bacon, Amanda Seyfried, Avery Essex