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  • Rev Horror

Leave

Dir. Alex Herron (2022)

A young woman who was abandoned in a cemetery as a baby goes on a search for her birth parents. She finds a bit more than she expects, probably on account of the Satanic markings on the blanket she was wrapped in when she was found.

CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS


One of my favorite Wikipedia rabbit holes is Norwegian Black Metal and the utterly batshit insane history of the music genre. There, amongst the names I can’t pronounce and the white corpse paint, can be found bizarre rituals, rampant arson, and even a few good murders. While there are very few American music artists who truly live the lifestyle that they sing about, the Scandinavian scene is filled with a few more true believers. It’s a topic that is relatively untapped by film, save a couple of documentary or biopics about some of the more infamous members of the scene. It is around this world that Leave, streaming later this month on Shudder, is based, telling the story of Hunter (Alicia von Rittberg), a young woman who was abandoned as a baby by her parents, who were members of a Norwegian Black Metal band who may or may not be living the lifestyle that they sang about.

Leave is the kind of film where the audience’s appreciation of what they find is going to be almost entirely dependent on what they expect going in. As a horror film, it’s relatively lackluster. The scares are tame, relying more on jumpscares than delivering on the atmosphere surrounding the plot. It’s dreadfully slow, the plot moving along at a snail’s pace that never really picks up steam. The acting, while not terrible, delivers some awful accents that serve to take the audience right out of the film. Hunter, who supposedly was brought to America after being abandoned as a baby, still has quite a bit of a Norwegian accent lurking behind her American one. Von Rittberg isn’t bad, per se, but the choice to make her an American at all is mystifying when there’s really no need to have her removed from her Norwegian roots. The directing is competent, and there’s clearly some bones here that would’ve made a great horror movie; they just don’t all fit together as-is.

All that being said, Leave does function particularly well as a mystery/thriller. As Hunter tries to uncover her past, we find ourselves entangled in a crime drama with a supernatural bent, and the deeper she goes in exploring her family history, the more off things become. If Leave had been on, say, Hulu, it actually probably would’ve worked pretty well and would’ve found a fairly large audience who appreciated what it was trying to do. As it stands, it doesn’t quite fit into what you would expect to find from Shudder, becoming more of a run-of-the-mill slow burn that fizzles more than flames. It’s a bit too long for what it is, and it never delivers on what could’ve been an incredible promise. I’d love to see another actual horror film that focuses on the world of black metal, because it’s a world that is ripe for the picking. This one just ain’t it.

Who this movie is for: Mystery thriller fans, Slow burn lovers, Black metal enthusiasts

Bottom line: Leave is a disappointing movie largely because of the missed potential. There’s a lot that could’ve been done with this plot, but rarely is it ever delivered upon. It’s more of a thriller than anything, and the scares are few and far between. I’m a big fan of the stuff that Shudder picks up for their network, but this is one of the few true misses that I’ve come across. Then again, it’s free with your subscription, so check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

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