Entertainment Earth


Leave (Review)

Director: Alex Herron
Writer: Thomas Moldestad
Cast: Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Stig R. Amdam, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Morten Holst
Min: 106

A baby, wrapped in a blanket with satanic symbols (I'm sure some of you will probably be wondering where to get one of your own!) and wearing an inverted cross necklace, is found by a cop. Cut to the present, where she is now a young woman named Cecilia (Ellen Dorrit Petersen). She wants to discover who are parents are, and why she was abandoned as a newborn. This is somehow connected to a black metal band, and, so, she heads to Norway (cause of course, it would be Norway!) to find out the truth. But, she lies to her adopted father telling him that she is headed to the college campus and dorm that she will be attending. In Norway, she meets a friend and, soon afterwards, the family of her mother Anna (Maria Alm Norell) and discovers that her dad had killed her mother. And, that he then set a church on fire with her body in it. But, the deeper she delves into what happened the more terrifying and dangerous the truth becomes, from evil that maybe supernatural or, perhaps, very much human.

Leave is a dramatic, horror/ mystery with an American and Norwegian cast. It is director Alex Herron's first feature film, though he has directed for TV. This allowed him to work on specials on hard rock and metal acts like the Deftones, BabyMetal, and Architects and festivals like Bloodstock, making him a solid choice to direct a movie that deals with this genre of music.  Shot in Norway this slow burn takes the heavy metal horror movie in a more serious and dramatic take than some of its more campy brethren. And, while it doesn't do this as wonderfully as say The Devil's Candy, I still quite quite like the way it deals with the subject matter. But, in reality, while metal serves as a start-off point there is actually oh so much more to this movie. 

I also need to mention that I absolutely loved the opening credits. With their newspaper headlines mentioning fire and black metal, they do a great job of grabbing your attention. The framing of shots within the flick help to give it a great look. Then, there is the excellent score by Jamie Christopherson, which is actually one of my favorite aspects of the flick. It is both haunting and beautiful.

While it deals with metal, or more specifically Norwegian black metal, it does so in non-condescending manner. This isn't something I wasn't expecting at first, but as a fan of this music, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. It also deals with women's roles in patriarchal societies, family connections, and religion. Though to go into any of these themes further is to spoil the movie, so I will just say that they are dealt with well and add depth to the proceedings. Another plus to the flick is that it has quite a bit of heart to it. 

The plot definitely takes its time to unfold. Some may even be a bit bored with it, at some points. But, I actually found myself invested in the mystery and like our heroine, I wanted to learnt the truth. This pays off, because at about the 1:07 mark, shit really starts to pick up. Once the truth begins to unravel, you will find yourself fully sucked into what is occuring. And, thankfully I found the revelations to be satisfying and well executed. The tense and suspenseful climax is great and had my heart pumping blood and my fists tightly clenched. It also had me absoluting hating the villain(s) and cheering for his/ their demise. 

The flick is also aided by some strong acting and good characterizations. This is especially true of our protagonist Cecilia. Played by the talented and lovely Ellen Dorrit Petersen, she comes off as super likable and believable. She is introduced in a that we immediately see how sweet and down to earth she is. Within only a few moments you know enough to be and, ultimately stay, on her side all the way to the ending. The characters of those she meets from her biological mom's side seemingly come off as sweet, but you can tell something is off adding to the intrigue. Among them is her cousin who is quite the dick, and you'll wish you could punch the fuck out.

As a slow-burn, Leave definitely takes its time to get going. But, the mystery is involving and has a satisfactory resolution and revelation to it. I found the climax to be nail-biting and very well done. It's a mature and serious heavy metal/ horror flick that deals with black metal in an excellent manner. Though, to be fair metal only plays one part in the story. Beyond that, it has deeper themes, such as religion, than you might expect. Also unexpected, but ultimately welcomed, is the amount of heart that it has. It's also further helped by good directing and a beautiful score. Finally, the acting is solid, with Petersen playing a very likable lead. It begins to streaming on Shudder on March 17, 2023, so be sure to catch it then!