Leave the World Behind

December 8, 202380/1006 min
Julia Roberts, Mashershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha'la Herrold
Written by
Sam Esmail ( written for the screen by),Rumen Alam ( based on the novel by )
Directed by
Sam Esmail
Run Time
2h 18min
Release Date
December 8th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

Some might argue that watching a movie about the horrors that could happen to us really isn’t necessary since we can see that by just logging onto social media. For me, whatever that crazy guy you are following is talking about is probably more fiction than a movie about real possibilities, but I am just a movie critic, so what do I know? My knowledge lies in films, and I can tell you this: Sam Esmail’s latest, Leave the World Behind, is pretty damn good.

Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay’s (Ethan Hawke) life seems to be a little stressful right now. It is for that reason that Amanda has deemed that a weekend getaway out of the city is called for. So together, and with their two kids, Rose (Farrah Mackenzie) and Archie (Charlie Evans), they head out to a cozy spot on Long Island. The house is nice, and while there are some problems with the Wi-Fi, it hasn’t seemed to put a damper on the trip. Instead, the change in the vibe comes from a knock at the door late at night. Standing there is G.H. (Mahershala Ali) and a younger girl named Ruth (Myha’la), who claim that this is their house. The couple also claim that there was a blackout in the city, and they came home because it was the only place they felt safe. The problem continues as the internet and the phones fail to work, so there is no way to know if what G.H. is saying is true. Signs, though, indicate he is telling the truth, and things only unravel more as time passes. Although the characters are lost, and as the viewers, we are given peeks into what is happening, things begin to become much worse than anyone expects.

Written by Esmail from Rumaan Alam’s book of the same name, Leave the World Behind starts off pretty heavy-handed, while spelling out Robert’s character on how she feels about people. This, of course, is excellent foreshadowing as these feelings will come into play later. Esmail’s script soars at creating an atmosphere of isolation and fear that really borders on paranoia as events keep happening, and the questions become more abundant. Even though as the viewer we are given more information than the characters, there are still unexplained things happening, which throws us into the chaos on screen as well. You can definitely cut the tension in the room with a knife in this one, leaving you thinking about what would be most important to you.

Leave the World Behind is an excellent psychological thriller that succeeds mostly because of its stellar cast. There is not a bad performance in this lot, but it’s Roberts and Ali who stand out the most. Ali, in particular, brings elegance and charm to his role, something he is accustomed to doing no matter the role he takes. This is not all psychological, as there is a touch of horror here as well, showing us a vision of the future that gives us a real sense of discomfort. This definitely can feel a bit too on the nose, but Leave the World Behind never fails to be chilling and engrossing. This is not a movie that is trying to appease you; instead, it wants to provoke you and might just make you take a long look in the mirror by its end.

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