Leave the World Behind reactions: Julia Roberts thriller looks to be divisive

The first Leave the World Behind reactions indicate the Netflix / Julia Roberts thriller is going to be a divisive viewing experience


Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail has assembled an impressive cast for his thriller Leave the World Behind that includes Julia Roberts (Homecoming), Ethan Hawke (The Black Phone), and Mahershala Ali (True Detective). Netflix will be giving the film a limited theatrical release on November 22nd, with the streaming release to follow on December 8th – but a premiere screening was recently held, and the embargo on reactions has been lifted. Judging by the first reactions that have made their way online, it looks like Leave the World Behind might make for a divisive viewing experience.

First, we have a few positive reactions that describe the film as “wildly riveting and entertaining” and “absolutely amazing”, saying it has a “smart script”:

On the opposite side of the great divide, we have reactions that describe Leave the World Behind as befuddling and “hideously bad” / “absolutely awful”:

Leave the World Behind is based on a novel by Rumaan Alam. (You can pick up a copy of the novel at THIS LINK.) Written and directed by Esmail, the film adaptation has the following synopsis: A family’s vacation is upended when two strangers arrive at night, seeking refuge from a cyberattack that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.

Roberts, Hawke, and Ali are joined in the cast by Farrah Mackenzie (United States of Al), Charlie Evans (Everything’s Gonna Be Okay), and Myha’la Herrold (Industry). Roberts and Hawke play husband and wife, with Mackenzie and Evans as their children. Herrold plays the daughter of Ali’s character. Kevin Bacon (Tremors) is also in the cast.

Roberts produced the film through her Red Om Films banner, with Esmail and Chad Hamilton producing through Esmail Corp. Red Om’s Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill are also producers, with Alam serving as executive producer.

For more information, we turn to the description of Alam’s novel: From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other? 

What do you think of the Leave the World Behind reactions? Will you be checking the movie out for yourself on the big screen in November, or on Netflix in December? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Leave the World Behind
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About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.