Leave The World Behind posters

“As awful as people might be, nothing is going to change the fact that we are all we’ve got.”

Ruth Scott

Unfolding during an impromptu vacation to a remote hamlet outside New York, this apocalyptic tale bears thematic similarities to White Noise in its examination of the affluent middle class response to events outside of their control, displaying complacency, mistrust, and terror. Sam Esmail rose to prominence after creating the superb Mr Robot (he directed 38 of its 45 episodes), a meticulous audiovisual experience of paranoia and isolation. In Leave the World Behind, adapted from a novel by Rumaan Alam, Esmail reunites with Mr Robot cinematographer Tom Campbell, who deploys unnatural framing like overhead shots and frame-filling geometry, or gravity-defying camera angles, drawing out the ominous from the mundane. This is coupled with stunningly captured modern apocalyptic imagery — an oil tanker run aground, fleeing autonomous vehicles, and migrating animals invading human spaces. Although the score’s vibrating strings can become unnecessarily overbearing at times, Esmail delivers a masterclass in ratcheting tension through slow release of information and calmer sequences that foster a growing sense of fatalism. A recurring suggestion is that our perception of society as functional and logical is simply a communally accepted delusion. Leave The World Behind has already proved divisive and there is plenty to critique — the character interaction often feels hollow despite the acting calibre of the leads, and the film is undoubtedly overlong; ultimately, however, viewers’ enjoyment is likely to depend on whether they appreciate Esmail’s pervasive cynicism about the modern world.