Overlook 2018: Don't Leave Home
Years after young Siobhan has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, a model making artist, Melanie (Anna Margaret Hollyman), uses Siobhan’s story as inspiration for a new art installation. The critics hate the work, but their reviews call the attention of those closely related to the case, a wealthy woman, Shelly (Helena Bereen), and Siobhan’s priest, Alistair (Lalor Roddy), who wish to purchase a piece and hold an auction for the rest. While staying in Ireland, Melanie starts to suffer vivid nightmares that may or may not be related to Siobhan’s disappearance, and Shelly and Alistair seem to know more about it then they let on.
That may sound like a damn fine mystery setup, but Don’t Leave Home fails to capitalize on any of its promise. Nearly an entire hour of this sub-ninety minute film is devoted to setting the table. By the time the plot kicked in, it had lost me, and then it rushes to a finale that doesn’t explain itself, nor feel substantial. Melanie’s character doesn’t develop one iota, and her premonitions ultimately lead nowhere and are only the slightest bit spooky. The film’s biggest issue is that it refuses to push at all, staying strangely comatose. The tone is one minor note for the entire length, the mystery is laid out without substance, and the performances feel pointlessly subdued.
The film desperately needed a strong voice, and while Hollyman puts in a fine performance, she never goes far enough. Shelly is an interesting character, and Bereen is the only person on screen showing any energy, but her character’s motivations are impossible to define and she goes underdeveloped. The priest is hiding a sinister secret, and is played with a sullen demeanor. While it’s an interesting choice that does work for the character, it only compounds on the sluggish feel of the rest of the film. I won’t spoil why, but a whole new cast of characters are added near the end and add a bizarre burst of energy. They’re well needed caricatures and stick out, but it’s ultimately too little too late.
There’s nothing unpleasant or particularly wrong with anything that happens in Don’t Leave Home, but there’s certainly nothing substantial either. A solid premise is wasted while the film lingers until the credits fade and it’s quickly forgotten. Featuring performers who certainly try but can’t do enough to create something out of nothing, the movie is perfectly watchable but frustratingly shallow.