A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that You Should Have Left is a thriller/horror movie about a family (Kevin Bacon, Amanda Seyfried, and Avery Tiiu Essex) staying in a haunted house, where a dark past catches up to them. Violence includes an attack by a ghost, a creepy man lifting a young girl up by her throat during a nightmare, wrist slicing (with blood), and other scary images/noises. Sex-related content includes a married couple kissing and having sex in the car (she straddles him, but no nudity is shown). There are moaning and panting sounds during this scene and during a movie scene being shot. A naked female ghost is shown from the side, but nothing graphic is seen. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and other words. Adults drink wine with dinner. The movie feels fairly familiar, but it's well constructed and spooky, and it should please mature horror hounds.
What's the story?
In YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT, Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) is a wealthy man with a dark past. He's now married to actress Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), and they have a 6-year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex). Looking to get away and spend some time together, they rent a huge house in the Welsh countryside. But before long, strange things start happening. The dimensions of the house don't make any sense, and mysterious doors suddenly appear, as well as scribbled warnings in Theo's journal. But when Theo finally decides to leave, it may be too late.
Is it any good?
Though it uses a pretty basic, familiar haunted-house setup, this spooky horror/thriller benefits from crisp, unpretentious filmmaking, wasting little time on needless filler and getting right to it. Adapted (from a novella by Daniel Kehlmann) and directed by noted screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, etc.), You Should Have Left reunites the director with star Bacon; they worked together two decades earlier on Stir of Echoes. Working within the Blumhouse template, Koepp keeps the production small, using some very simple, effective tricks to generate genuine spine tingles.
The house itself is truly unsettling in the way that doors and odd angles tend to obscure certain images, keeping viewers off-balance. In a way, the house's sheer physical presence is even spookier than more typical tricks like shadows on the wall or reflections that move on their own. The human story works, too, and, even as simple as it is, the three main performers fill in the blanks on a troubled family dynamic. Bacon embodies jealousy and uncertainty, while Seyfried exemplifies carefree playfulness mixed with secrecy. Certainly You Should Have Left doesn't break any new ground, but it's a fine example of a solidly creepy chiller that should please horror hounds.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in You Should Have Left. How did it make you feel? Is it shocking? Thrilling? How much is shown, and how much is suggested? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? What is the appeal of scary movies?
What is the family relationship like in the movie? What are the similarities and differences between this family and your own?
How is sex depicted? What values are imparted? Is age an issue?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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