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  • Writer's pictureKen Silvers

Leave the World Behind

I admitted in this column  I have never been a huge fan of Julia Roberts. However, as the years have passed I have had a change of heart and can now appreciate her talent. Roberts is starring, along with Mahershala Ali and Ethhan Hawke in the new film "Leave the World Behind", based on the 2020 novel by Rumaan Alam. Roberts stars as Amanda Sanford, who, at the beginning of the film, reveals she has a hatred and mistrust for humans. Amanda has unexpectedly planned a trip for her husband Clay (Hawke) and their two kids Archie (Charlie Evans) and Rose (Farrah Mackenzie) to a rented house on Long Island. You know from the beginning of the film, something ominous is going to occur due to the tone of the soundtrack music. After the family arrives on Long Island, they settle into the beautiful house, with a pool and lots of windows for a perfect view of the woods surrounding the home. This is the type of home you would see on one of those real estate reality shows of which I love to watch. So the scene is set for the family to have a perfect holiday. However, one upsetting factor for the family is the lack of cell phone service when they get to the house, and like most of humanity, this is a disaster in the making. Rose is even more upset at the lack of cell and internet service as she has been watching the entire "Friends" television series and was ready for the very last episode when the cell and internet service collapsed. Their tech issues aside, the family heads to the beach the next day, and  while there an oil tanker runs ashore causing panic and evacuation. Once they return to the rented house, they have no way to connect to the outside world via television or internet to see what caused the ship to run ashore. Late the same evening while the family is  asleep, someone knocks on the door, causing Amanda to panic. When Clay opens the door, he is greeted by the supposed owner of the home, G.H. Scott (Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha'la). G.H. says the two returned to their home due to a blackout in the city. Amanda doesn't trust the duo, but Clay allows them to stay overnight in the basement of the house. The following morning Clay decides to drive to town in an attempt to get information on what is going on, and G.H. is going over to the neighboring house. When he arrives at the neighbors home,  G.H. discovers the grounds of the home wrecked, and when he walks over to the hill to the beach makes a shocking discovery. While on the beach, he sees a passenger plane crash before him. Meanwhile, while attempting to get into town, Clay encounters a panicked lady beside the road who only speaks Spanish, of which he does not speak. In a split second decision, he abandons the lady, and then encounters a drone dropping leaflets, causing him to head back to the house. While Clay was away, Rose has seen deer come on to the property in large numbers, but when she tells Archie, he expresses no concern. Later, Archie and Rose walk down to a nearby shed, and while there, a sudden shrill noise causes all the parties to cover their ears in pain. Clay and Amanda soon make the decision to head back to the city, but while on the way encounter a  blocked highway full of abandoned vehicles, resulting in their return to the house. After they return to the house matters soon turn from bad to worse, as the shrill noise returns, this time so powerful it cracks windows in the house. The next morning as the family awakens, Archie is sick and his top teeth begin to fall out. Panicked, G.H. attempts to get help for Archie from one of his neighbors, Danny (Kevin Bacon), a doomsday preparist, but he is uncooperative, unti pleas from Clay make him agreeable. From this point forward in the film, the families discover what is causing their world to be turned upside down (no spoiler here), and eventually find a safe haven. Producer and director Sam Esmail ("Mr. Robot") has created a tense and edge-of-your-seat thriller, leaving me pondering "what if", which is clearly the point of the novel and film. The actors involved are all in top form, with Roberts and Hawke making a great onscreen couple. In addition, seeing Kevin Bacon in a brief but unforgettable cameo was great. If you are looking for a psychological thriller, "Leave the World Behind" is your ticket. Now streaming on Netflix and in limited theatrical release. (Rated R) 



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