Film Column – Leave The World Behind

Leave The World Behind is a disaster film with an M Night Shyamalan and Alfred Hitchcock delicacy.

NOW streaming on Netflix, Leave The World Behind is based on Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel of the same name.

In this apocalyptic thriller from award-winning writer and director Sam Esmail (Mr Robot), Amanda (Julia Roberts) and her husband Clay (Ethan Hawke) rent a luxurious home in Long Island, New York, for the weekend with their kids, Archie (Charlie Evans) and Rose (Farrah Mackenzie).

Their vacation is soon upended when two strangers — GH (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) — arrive in the night, bearing news of a mysterious cyberattack and seeking refuge in the house they claim is theirs. The two families reckon with a looming disaster that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.

Leave The World Behind is a disaster film with an M Night Shyamalan and Alfred Hitchcock delicacy to be found in the pacing and camerawork.

Esmail draws us in from the very opening scene and keeps us hooked throughout this engaging and often profound cinematic experience.

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Focusing, as he does, on little human moments that expose our frailties and foibles, Esmail proves himself a master craftsman who, even when our more shameful or dark emotional traits are on display, keeps us totally glued to the screen.

This is a suspenseful and provoking watch with the intricacies of parenthood, race, and class put under the microscope to explore how bonds are forged and reshaped in moments of real crisis.

When the world as you know it ceases to exist and we are forced to stop feeding from the teat of social media and streaming services — with TV, internet and cell phones, also a thing of the past — who can you trust?

The performances throughout are captivating and Esmail has crafted a classic edge of seat thriller to keep audiences breathless until the very end.