Away from it all: Luxury getaway goes south in ‘Leave the World Behind’
BY SARAH PASSINGHAM
A family’s stay at a luxurious vacation home is unexpectedly extended due to a mysterious apocalypse in the new thriller “Leave the World Behind,” premiering Friday, Dec. 8, on Netflix.
Based on the bestselling
2020 novel of the same name by author Rumaan Alam, the adaptation stars Julia Roberts (“Ticket to Paradise,” 2022) and Ethan Hawke (“Moon Knight”) as married couple Amanda and Clay Sandford, whose family getaway to Long Island is steered far from the rest and relaxation they expected.
After putting off a much-needed break from their busy day-to-day city life, Amanda tells Clay in the official trailer for the film, “I figured if I made the reservation and packed our bags, it would eliminate most of the reasons to say no.” Off they go to a sprawling home near the beach with their two children, teenager Archie (Charlie Evans, “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay”) and their youngest, Rose (Farrah Mackenzie, “United States of Al”).
While Amanda and Clay watch on as their children enjoy the pool and they all begin to settle into their temporary home, the peace and quiet begins feeling eerie. The cable and internet are mysteriously out, but the Sandfords try to make the most of it by pulling out games to pass the time. A knock at the door in the dark of night puts them face to face with two strangers in formal wear.
Mahershala Ali (“Swan
Song,” 2021) is G.H. Scott, the owner of the home, he explains to the bewildered couple blocking his doorway. This fateful introduction deepens the uneasiness that’s beginning to build, when Amanda says to G.H. like an accusation, “This is your house?” G.H., joined by his daughter Ruth (Myha’la, “Industry”), face down their guests until they are eventually let into their home.
Widespread blackouts led the Scotts to flee New York City for their Long Island residence, wanting to wait out the outage away from the panic of the city. Relegated to the basement inlaw suite by a forcefully skeptical Amanda, the divide between the two families intensifies.
If Amanda is determined not to make any friends in the apocalypse, her efforts are matched only by gruff contractor Danny, portrayed by Kevin Bacon (“City On a Hill”). Holding his shotgun as a warning in the trailer, Danny sternly tells G.H., “I would do anything to protect my family. What you do is your business.” A woman desperately clings to the passenger side door as Clay accelerates away, lost in this unfamiliar beach town, leaving the Sandford and Scott families no choice but to rely on each other for the time being.
All they know for certain is that a countrywide cyberattack has caused sweeping power outages along the East Coast. Confirmed with an unsettling “unrecognized emergency warning” blasting bright blue light from the beach home’s flatscreen TV, G.H.’s hunch that the seemingly unrelated disasters are connected grows.
“Leave the World Behind” is written and directed by
“Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail, who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter in October about adapting the novel shortly after it was published during the COVID-19 pandemic. Esmail shared, “It was a crazy time, those early days [of the pandemic], and when
I read the book what really resonated for me was this idea that in a moment of crisis, just how easily we could forget our common humanity.”
Alam executive produced the film with Tonia Davis (“Rustin,” 2023), Daniel M. Stillman (“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” 2020), Nick Krishnamurthy and Barack and Michelle Obama (“We the People”). Esmail also shared what it’s like to collaborate with the former president and first lady, saying, “They gave notes on everything from the disaster elements to the characters.” The director added, “It’s a highlight of my career that I got to work with the Obamas. They’re some of the most brilliant minds on the planet and I’m really grateful for their involvement.”
Alberta Newspaper Group