Leave The World Behind Review

Leave The World Behind
Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay (Ethan Hawke) are on vacation with their two children on Long Island when the owner of the house, G.H. (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la), show up in the middle of the night. They soon realise that the world might be ending outside.

by Lillian Crawford |
Published on
Release Date:

08 Dec 2023

Original Title:

Leave The World Behind (2023)

M. Night Shyamalan gets unfairly mocked for his horror movies — not least Old for being about a beach that makes you, well, old, and the almost self-parodic number of twists in Knock At The Cabin. But Shyamalan can never be accused of lack of originality, or not having a distinctive voice. Leave The World Behind, written, directed, and produced by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, feels like a bad concatenation of Shyamalan’s last two features processed through ChatGPT.

Leave The World Behind

Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay Sandford (Ethan Hawke) are on holiday. They go to the beach, mysteriously disrupted by an oil tanker running aground, and they stay at a luxurious cabin in the woods. So far, so Shyamalan. Then the owners of the house show up, claiming there’s been a blackout. Esmail tells us that something is wrong — the film is fraught with oblique angles, dizzying pans between rooms, and a relentless piano-and-strings score, respectively courtesy of cinematographer Tod Campbell and composer Mac Quayle. The tension is breathless and well-constructed, but since they begin with the dial at eleven, there is nowhere to go throughout the film’s exhausting 140 minutes.

Adapting Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel, Esmail never decides what his apocalypse is taking aim at. We see atrocious CG deer (“Not a deer, a fuck lot of deer”), falling satellites (“The ones in space”), and self-driving Teslas going rogue. There’s hackneyed discussion about racial tensions, climate change, “the Koreans”, and pretty much everything else Esmail could chuck in the blender. Ethan Hawke and Mahershala Ali try to make the best of this tangled script, while Julia Roberts repeatedly says, “What the fuck?” while looking pissed off. Don’t expect any answers from its truly baffling conclusion either. That is, if you haven’t already willed the end of the world before the credits roll.

A starry trio and suspenseful filmmaking can’t save this apocalyptic thriller from collapsing on itself.
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