Review by C.J. Bunce

Writer-director David Koepp knows how to make a good movie.  He’s written the scripts for Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park, for Raimi’s original Spider-Man, for De Palma’s Mission: Impossible, and the list goes on, to include some horror work.  In You Should Have Left, Koepp adapts German writer Daniel Kehlmann’s novel of the same name.  The film is from Blumhouse, which lately has produced horror that is less slasher and more appealing to mainstream viewers.  You Should Have Left is a pulse-pounding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and barely earns its R rating.  It also proves you don’t need a big cast and big budget to make a fantastic movie.  You Should Have Left, a 2020 sleeper you probably overlooked, is streaming now on the free Peacock app.

The brilliance is in its simplicity and the chemistry of its three lead characters, who, along with a shopkeeper, account for the characters you’ll see on the screen for most of the movie.  And it’s all you’ll need.  Kevin Bacon is Theo, a retired banker married to a much younger actress named Susanna, played by Amanda Seyfried.  In spite of their age difference, they have perfect chemistry–their banter will have you believing they are a real couple from the first minutes.  Along with their daughter Ella, played by bright child actress Avery Essex, the trio moves from the U.S. to Wales for a brief break in Susanna’s acting work schedule so they can get away from their busy lives.  Unfortunately, Theo has a secret past he cannot escape from.

That’s really all you want to know.

Koepp weaves the best components of a British Gothic manor house mystery centered around a set piece inspired by the surreal artwork of M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali, with a perfectly plotted and creepily paced ghost story, and incredible, vivid depictions of nightmares.  Or it may be something else altogether–a mash-up of genres that lands somewhere between the supernatural, the suspenseful, the psychological thriller, and the modern classic Blumhouse style of horror fun that keeps getting better with each movie.

You Should Have Left showcases some of Bacon and Seyfried’s best performances.  And it has very little sex, violence, language, or gore.  And you’ll be glued to your chair until the end.  It’s perfectly creepy and perfectly satisfying, with great twists.  Don’t miss it.  You Should Have Left is streaming now on the free Peacock app.