Leave the World Behind: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke Face the End-Times

If f society were indeed to collapse entirely, understanding the precise reasons might remain elusive. The realization of something amiss would persist, but the details would blur as phones ceased to function, internet connections were severed, and media networks turned into silent channels. Ominous nocturnal electronic wails resonating from the sky, distant explosions, aircraft and ships crashing into the ground, and animals gathering in eerie formations would only provide glimpses of the ensuing chaos. A clandestine network of survivors might circulate conflicting rumors, leaving one to wonder about the authenticity of any information. This unsettling premise forms the core of “Leave the World Behind,” the new Netflix thriller that amplifies its terror through ambiguity.

Directed by Sam Esmail, the creator of “Mr. Robot,” the film adapts the screenplay from Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel. Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke portray a New York couple who, coincidentally, take their two children on a woodland retreat to Long Island just as society begins to unravel. Mahershala Ali plays the owner of the rented property, appearing in the middle of the night to seek refuge in his own home with his daughter (Myha’la Herrold, known for her role in “Bodies Bodies Bodies”). Can they endure together, or will desperation lead them to turn on each other? “Leave the World Behind” is more intrigued by these questions than by unraveling the mystery of the global crisis.