Leave (2023) Movie Review – Lame horror will tempt you to make an early exit

Lame horror will tempt you to make an early exit

Leave, which is currently streaming on Shudder, is the first movie from Norwegian music director Alex Herron. It tells the tale of a young woman named Hunter White who leaves America for Norway in search of the mother who abandoned her as a child. Upon her arrival in the country, she starts to experience strange visions that link back to her past. She also discovers dark family secrets that put her life in danger.

There is potential for an intriguing mystery here but unfortunately, the movie becomes more ridiculous as it goes on. This is largely thanks to a series of plot holes that render the movie nonsensical. As such, this isn’t for you if you’re looking for a cohesive narrative.

Still, the movie begins promisingly enough. We hear a 911 call with information about a crying baby in a cemetery. A police officer arrives on the scene and finds the child wrapped in a blanket that has been inscribed with satanic symbols. This scene and the ensuing opening credits which feature images of fire and newspaper cuttings about satanism seem to suggest the movie is going to be a horror piece about a demonic cult.

As it happens, this isn’t what the movie is about at all. There is certainly mention of Satan in the movie but if you’re expecting another horror flick like The Omen or Rosemary’s Baby, you’re going to be disappointed.

After the impressive credit sequence, the movie fast-forwards 20 years to the moment when Hunter is about to head off to college. She waves goodbye to her adoptive father (the policeman who found her as a child), but rather than driving to Georgetown, where she is supposed to be studying, she secretly heads to the airport and catches a plane to Norway instead.

Hunter meets with a Black Metal singer named Cecelia who she initially assumes to be her mother. Unfortunately, she’s not her mom but the performer does let Hunter know who her parents are. But as her real father is in a mental hospital and as her birth mother is presumed dead, Hunter’s hopes of a happy family reunion are quickly dashed.

Rather than head home and begin her college education after hearing this upsetting news, Hunter decides to stick around to find out more about her parents and to discover the reasons why her mom wrapped her up in a creepy blanket and left her alone in a graveyard.

Hunter’s journey takes her to the home of her Aunt Lillian where she also meets her uncle, deeply religious grandfather, and handsome cousin. The family are hospitable at first but when Hunter starts trying to put the pieces of her past together, certain members of her family start to feel threatened.

This could have been a good movie. The acting by the mostly Norwegian cast is excellent and the director manages to conjure up an air of menace during the movie’s runtime. The moody cinematography by Sjur Aarthun and the ominous music score by Jamie Christopherson adds to the movie’s sinister feel and the nightmarish visions of burning ghosts that Hunter experiences also bring about a sense of dread.

But the aforementioned plot holes undermine the good that is in the movie. There are moments in the story that make very little sense so this proves to be quite a frustrating watch. As the movie is also badly edited at times, this makes it even more illogical. There is one moment late in the movie when one character suddenly disappears after being an intrinsic part of a scene and you will likely wonder what happened to him. I had to rewind the movie to see if I had missed something but I hadn’t.

Ultimately, this is one movie that isn’t worth your time. Leave is like a jigsaw puzzle with vital pieces missing so you might get very annoyed while watching it. With a better thought-out story and tighter editing, this could have been okay. Instead, it’s a messy affair that will confuse rather than entertain you.


Read More: Leave Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 4.5/10

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