As an infant, Hunter White was discovered abandoned in a New England cemetery. She was wrapped in a piece of cloth covered in satanic symbols, and around her neck hung a Wolf’s Cross pendant. 20 years later, she is obsessed with finding out why she was abandoned and who her biological parents are.
Starring Alicia von Rittberg, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Herman Tømmeraas, Stig Amdam and Morten Holst, Leave is a surprising genre-bending gem. Filmed in Norway, the film was directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad.
I am always confused by the negative feedback American audiences seem to give foreign (or foreign language) films. Leave is another example of this trend; and this film was definitely not deserving of the negativity—quite the contrary in fact.
The film follows Hunter (von Rittberg) on her quest to discover her biological parents and the reason she was left in Satanic apparel in a graveyard as a babe. There is a bit of an intentional misdirection here, as one would think that the film is sure to delve down some devil-worshipping subplot or an abandoned anti-Christ tangent…if you’ve watched as many horrors as I have these things become pretty standard fare.
But no, nothing quite as nefarious as Baphomet worshipping cultists…just some Norwegian black metal angst versus a creepy Christian family. The story itself is rather clever and I will admit that I did not see the twists and turns coming; something I pride myself on. The pacing was decent and I found myself interested from start to finish.
There are some other-worldly elements at play; a vision here and a ghost there, but these hauntings take a backseat in the film’s plot, focusing more on the evil that dwells within the living rather than with the dead. Also, the title gets a very clever explanation near the film’s conclusion…something I had to tip my hat to as it was a nice touch.
Earlier reviews have said that they found the acting subpar, and others still have said that Leave is little more than a Norwegian B-horror. I disagree. Aside from one or two slips with accents, I felt the cast did a considerably good job, especially considering they weren’t acting in their native tongue. Also, the production value, sets, scenery, editing and score were all top-notch—definitely not B-quality. Is this a AAA Hollywood blockbuster? Absolutely not. Is it a well-produced indie film? Most definitely.
Don’t go into this expecting your run-of-the-mill haunted family meets long lost member. It’s more a tale of self-discovery, forgiveness and mystery. Sure, there are a few plot holes and moments that may have you scratching your head but just put those down to moments lost in translation and you’ll find yourself having a good time with this title.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Leave will premiere on Shudder this Friday, March 17th. Give it a chance if you like a good mystery, exotic locations, and unexpected twists to a tale. The trailer and poster are below.
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