The tendency of perspective and perception is a idiom in movies that usually paints to a metaphor of whether or not a character is guilty of the actions he or she supposedly committed. in “You Should Have Left”, the essence of the Id is a big texture with the characters, male and female. Like writer/director David Koepp’s earlier “Secret Window” with Johnny Depp, it is about reflective insanity that can both be deconstructive but also freeing with certain characters. Kevin Bacon has been known to subvert genre more than a time or two so it can be tricky what angle the character could actually take which is part of why the film works as much as it does. The aspect of such a big age gap with his character and his wife Susanna (played by Amanda Seyfried) works when you understand the mechanics of the story and why that needs to be. It is a bit of a stretch maybe but they both make it work.
The mechanics of the movie are effective. The story is not about any big reveals but it is also not about making it easy to discover what is going on. The production design and the efficiency of structure is quintessential Blumhouse but also Koepp efficiency and 90s style thriller. Making a genre film and on a low budget ultimately depends on the director. Sometimes it can make certain directors really make it work like “Upgrade” by Leigh Whammel. “You Should Have Left” is an apt film but it is neither exceptional nor bad. It is effectively entertaining and a film that definitely has re-watch value, not because there are new aspects to discover but because the mechanics are smooth. Seyfried gets a bit of a thankless role but there is a almost a proxy irony that filters through the story with her. Avery Essex who plays their young daughter is extremely precocious but also an effective actor beyond her years…and yet sometimes one can see her acting.
The film also uses its location to remove the viewer from their comfort zone. The location that fills in for Wales is undeniably remarkable if the location manager managed to do what is seen seamlessly with very few stock shots if any. On the essence that this is a Blumhouse production, it is not necessarily terrifying or filled with horror as one would think but it is a effective concept that can be made to fill a structural base, like “The Purge” or “Happy Death Day,” That is the brilliance of a piece like this and the Blumhouse model because it forces the filmmaker to make it work at a studio level with the budget of an indie. But, as usual, it is always about the right ingredients.
By Tim Wassberg