It offers 140 minutes of doomsday panic and high tension

It offers 140 minutes of doomsday panic and high tension

We can already see the biggest scene from Leave the World Behind in the trailer: a huge cargo ship pushes itself uncontrollably into a beach. The bathers flee in panic. And the internet doesn’t work either. Director Sam Esmail sends irregularities like these as harbingers of the apocalypse into the ideal world of a New York family spending their vacation in the Hamptons.

The sci-fi thriller is the film debut of Esmail, who has so far only caused a stir in series (Mr. Robot, Homecoming). His film adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s novel is something like that Don’t Look Up of 2023 become – just darker, more exciting and less satirical. In this article you will get a brief assessment, whether the film is worth it for you and what it’s all about.

The most important facts about Leave the World Behind

What is Leave the World Behind about?

Julia Roberts’ character Amanda tells her family (husband, one girl, one boy) a spontaneous vacation in the wealthy Hamptons, a beach area near New York. The Airbnb idyll is disturbed by GH Scott (Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la Herrold). They pose as the actual residents of the swanky house that Amanda has rented. They seek refuge in the villa under an excuse. The two families have to come to terms somehow.


Leave the World Behind with Mahershala Ali, Myha’la Herrold, Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke

Then the internet goes down, the television doesn’t work and a government announcement declares a national emergency. Something happened, something big. A nuclear war? A natural disaster? An alien invasion?

Technology is plunging the world into ruin: How good is Leave the World Behind?

Don’t expect a sci-fi blockbuster in the style of Independence Day. Leave the World Behind pulls the apocalypse scenario back behind the (very generously sized) four walls. The tension this creates is effective. It is based on information withdrawal. But that’s not a trick à la M. Night Shyamalan – who presented a very similar film this year with Knock at the Cabin – but rather the theme of the film. You have to imagine a high wall blocking the view of the neighboring garden, from where panicked screams waft across – and then you have something like the mood of Leave the World Behind.

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In the best phases, this is reminiscent of genre greats like Signs, which shifts the apocalypse beyond the crumple zone of the private sphere, where the impact only arrives dully. But they are noticeable.

For a chamber play, Leave the World Behind is long at 140 minutes. He keeps his captivating rhythm, but twenty minutes less wouldn’t have done him any harm. In addition, Sam Esmail gives the impression here and there that he doesn’t actually know exactly what he actually wants to tell and where he wants to go with his story. At such moments, the hints at the great mystery behind the swirling apocalypse become a little too airy. And if you like satisfying resolutions, you should approach Leave the World Behind with very low expectations.