Review by Dan Skip Allen
Jason Blum has perfected a formula of low-budget horror films that entertain the masses but don't have much substance to them. He is a producer who has helped resuscitate this dying horror genre. He uses different writers, filmmakers, and actors in his films, but the result is the same: most of them aren't very good, with a few exceptions. You Should Have Left isn't one of those.
In the film, Kevin Bacon plays a stay at home dad. He is financially set so he doesn't have to work. His wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), is an actress and they have a young daughter (Avery Essex) together. Susanna has an acting job in England so they move to Wales while she is working. They rented a beautiful house on a hill in a sleepy town in Wales. Little did they know they rented the infamous Stettler house. It's full of surprises of its own and threatens to tear this family apart.
Bacon has come a long way from his early Footloose days. He has been in some good roles over the past thirty-five or so years, including Jack Swigert in Apollo 13, Sean Devine in Mystic River, and Capt. Jack Ross in A Few Good Men. His career has run the gambit of all kinds of films. He has even had a good TV career as well. You Should Have Left is not one of the best roles in his career, but in the right hands, it could have been. The reunion between him and Koepp goes disappointingly wrong. It's very sad — this role and film had potential, but it's wasted in the end.
Amanda Seyfried has had a lot of potential in her career ever since Mean Girls. She's done some good work in Les Misérables as Cosette, Sylvia Weis in In Time, and Mary in First Reformed. Similar to Bacon, she's squandered a lot of good opportunities. She's settled on these one notes characters such as Susanna in You Should Have Left. A few romantic comedies here and there have helped her develop some range in her career. Sadly, she hadn't branched out for more substantial dramatic roles. Or maybe she hasn't been offered them and settled on these lesser roles instead. Who knows? The fact of the matter is she needs to pick better roles.
David Koepp has been a prolific screenwriter over the past twenty-eight or so years. He broke onto the scene with big hits including Death Becomes Her, Jurassic Park, Carlito's Way, and Mission: Impossible. He even worked with Kevin Bacon on Stir of Echoes back in 1999. This partnership is probably very familiar to both men involved. Koepp's directing credits haven't been so good though. I think he should just focus on writing rather than directing. For our sake and his. He has cranked out some very good scripts in his day. It doesn't mean he should direct everything he writes. This film is a dud.
Based on the not-so tried-and-true formula of haunted house films, You Should Have Left left me wanting more. This film had so much potential. It started great — I was very interested in these characters and their lives, and when they got to the house in Wales it even got better. Then all of a sudden, it just went off the rails. For such an acclaimed screenwriter as David Koepp, this film and script were a big letdown for me. Maybe it was the budget. Who knows? Something went wrong with the end product. It just didn't deliver on its promises from the entertaining trailer or screenwriter Koepp.
You Should Have Left is now available on VOD.