Spoilers need things to pick up.

Okey I definitely wasn’t in the mood for a slow burn, so I might have been biased against this feature. We’ll get into the strange mix of decisions made by the filmmakers here soon enough. Also, as much as I wanted a review this week in a similar vein to pair it with the previous one, it’s really hard to put two films together in one week that remotely relate to each other. In this case, they couldn’t be further apart. Scalpel, please. Let’s get into it.

(Credit: Trollbound Entertainment)

Leave (2022) was directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad. Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) is going to college. Apparently the cop who found her ended up adopting her. However, before going there she is on a personal quest to Norway find her mother who abandoned her in a cemetery wrapped up in a cloak with the typical satanic symbols. After finding out she’s mostly Norwegian, she has found out that around the time she was abandoned a Norwegian metal band was touring the area.

There’s a few weird choices the movie makes that sound like a path not taken. If you feel there was going to be a metal theme going here as it is hinted in the beginning, it is abandoned immediately. Hunter encounters the band singer, who is not her mom, and who lets her know her mother was Anna Norheim (Maria Alm Norell) was murdered by her father, who killed her by burning her alive. Her father is now in a mental institution. Since Hunter found a cross that her mother left on her neck, she’s been haunted by a presence that initially only the audience sees. It’s a ghost of a burned woman.

Hunter muster ups the courage to visit her father Kristian (Morten Holst) pretending to be a journalist, without telling him who she is. Then the movie shifts to the countryside as Hunter finds her mother’s family. She’s welcome to stay, although after exchanging some secretive glances between them that are supposed to foreshadow deep and dark family secrets. The atmosphere becomes more tense as she meets her grandfather Torstein (Stig R. Amdam), patriarch of the family and with even more secrets of his own. This tension goes on for a while as Hunter tries to find her mother’s secret diary, does so and her grandfather forbids her from reading it.

The movie title should’ve been a hint. First, we set up this dynamic between Hunter and the lead singer of the band, Cecilia (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), which is not her mother but still a very engaging character. Then the movie proceeds to leave her behind. The world of Norwegian metal which we seemed to be ready to get into is left behind. There’s a complete tonal shift to the countryside. Remember the ghost? Well, she’s kind of a side character. The main threat is really not supernatural at all. Also remember her mother’s diary? Well, it was not her mother’s. There’s a twist at the end that feels forced, but by then you’ve either grown used to the jarring way that the story changes or you’ve given up in frustration.

Not recommended. I really tried to, but I wanted a movie to meet me at least halfway. The supernatural presence is supposed to ground this movie as horror, but it’s a cheap resource to try to keep up tension that does not pay off. The metal music angle dies off quickly to the point that feels like a cheap red herring to bring a different audience that will be utterly bored with the rest. It’s like the filmmakers keep changing their mind about what they want the movie to be. Not worth a watch.

That will do for now.