Much like Morgan Saylor’s performance in Shudder’s exclusive and original feature A Spoonful of Sugar, the horror streaming platform has released another gripping lead performance in its latest outing, Leave. In this instance the performance in question comes from Alicia Von Rittberg, better known for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth 1st in Becoming Elizabeth. Unfortunately though, this is the only redeeming strength in an otherwise slow plodding, unfulfilling film.
Essentially the premise is bound by Rittberg’s Hunter character yearning to find the missing piece of the picture, namely who her parents and real family are. Having just graduated to University, Hunter embarks on a detour to discover her true origins. All she knows is that as an infant, she was left abandoned in a cemetery, wrapped in garments emblazoned with satanic symbols. This probably would be enough warning for anyone not to venture down a seemingly treacherous path to resolution, but Hunter continues pressing forward, even when a malevolent spirit appears, warning her not to do so.
As we journey alongside Hunter, the audience endures some slow, moving scenes aimed at adding tension to the piece, but instead feels too close to grinding to a halt. Despite Rittberg’s efforts, and she pulls up all the stops to ground her character and add depth to her trauma, we are left ambling along with little care to connect with her inevitable plight.
For all his best efforts Director Alex Herron struggles to add enough atmosphere to his psychological thriller, a necessary ingredient for the subgenre. Where he tries to apply a dark and moody setting, he loses sight of building up tension for admittedly a substandard script. Alicia Von Rittberg is a joy to watch, and potentially the only ray of sunshine in a pretty mediocre narrative.
- Saul Muerte