There are countless horror flicks dealing with haunted houses or possessions within a house. Typically, they are creepy, old, and dilapidated. Buildings that any sensible person would take one look at and think “HELL no, I’m not going in there.” The newest thriller/suspense from Blumhouse, You Should Have Left, takes it in a different direction. It plays with the idea that it is not the house itself, but the spirit within that is the real danger. Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) and his wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) learn this the hard way during a family vacation.
Theo and Susanna take their daughter Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex) to a beautiful and modern house on the Welsh countryside. Yes, beautiful and modern aren’t the first words that come to mind when you hear Welsh countryside. In that vein, the house sticks out like a sore thumb. The local town seems to be in a completely different world, and in a way, it is. Susanna is also quick to point out that the service is incredibly spotty throughout the house – who could have guessed!? Poor cell service aside, never did Theo and Susanna imagine the horrors living in those walls.
In almost no time the evils within the house begin manipulating the Conroy family. From vivid nightmares to altering their perceptions of time and space, the house begins chipping away at the family. The house knows exactly what to do to get inside their heads…almost as if this isn’t it’s first evil rodeo. As the terror intensifies, there is only a matter of time before the Conroy’s can reverse course. That is unless their secrets make them implode first.
You Should Have Left has many of the familiar horror elements we’ve become used to. Exaggerated noises – every single footstep, movement, floor creak ringing in our ears and making us hold our breath. Long dark hallways with a singular light directing our eyes to that shadowy figure in the background for a split second. The eerie pounding music, almost as if the house has a heartbeat that is following the family. Writer/director David Koepp adds some great camera angles and cinematography to the mix. He masters manipulating light and perspectives, which results in some fantastic shots. His use of reflections is superb, creating images that are burned into my mind.
For a “horror” film, the acting is top notch. Kevin Bacon is great and the sense of dread slowly building within him throughout the film is portrayed perfectly. While Seyfried also delivers a strong performance, Essex steals the show. She is not only adorable, but is convincingly terrified of everything of all the horrors Ella experiences.
Koepp does not need to rely on blood and gore to make You Should Have Left interesting and entertaining. Many films in the genre don’t have enough going for them, so they just turn up the violence. Koepp builds a successful atmosphere within, and outside, the walls of the house. One that continues to ramp up the tension and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. In this time of social distancing and quarantines, You Should Have Left is an entertaining thriller to put on in your own home. Just be glad you are in the safety of your own house and not the one the Conroy’s stumbled upon.