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Leave the World Behind

Content Caution

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Leave the World Behind 2023

Credits

In Theaters

Cast

Home Release Date

Director

Distributor

Reviewer

Kennedy Unthank

Movie Review

While Fred Rogers may have loved his neighborhood, Amanda Sandford cannot wait to escape hers.

The New Yorker woke up one day and, staring out her apartment window, realized just how little she enjoyed the company of people. It’s why she’s rented a spur-of-the-moment vacation home out of the city for her family.

When she and her husband, Clay, arrive, they realize that a quick break from the rat race was just what they needed—well, that, and a family trip to the nearby beach!

But that relaxing day quickly turns to confusion when a massive oil tanker comes slamming straight into the sandy shore. And according to an official, it’s happening up and down the coast due to some sort of navigational computer glitch. What’s more, when the family gets back to the rental, they find that neither the WiFi nor the TV are getting any signal.

Soon after that, the family gets a knock at the door. It’s a father and daughter, dressed for a night at the Bronx Philharmonic Orchestra. The father introduces the two of them as George and Ruth, and he’s the owner of the home. There’s been a city-wide blackout, and he’s hoping Clay and Amanda would let them stay the night in safety away from the city. Amanda’s hesitant, but Clay agrees to let the two of them stay—especially after George reimburses them for half the cost with money he pulls from one of the house’s locked drawers.

Come morning, the two families debate what to do. That’s when Ruth turns the TV on to find the blaring blue message on every channel.

It’s an emergency broadcast warning of a devastating cyberattack sweeping the country.

Positive Elements

Clay and George act as buttresses for the two families, trying to keep everyone calm and safe as they work to learn as much as they can. Whereas other characters frequently start infighting, the two fathers work with one mind to shut such moments down. It’s evident that, though the two both admit to being afraid, they want to be strong leaders that the rest of their families can lean on.

George greatly contrasts his daughter, Ruth, regarding morality. Whereas Ruth approaches each situation in a self-serving manner, George is extremely focused on doing the right thing, even if said right thing might leave him negatively impacted as a result. And in a moment of weakness, when George seems ready to cave on that ideal, Clay helps him get back on the right track.

Spiritual Elements

A large herd of deer appears throughout the film, which one character calls a good omen. Rose believes the deer are something of a spiritual warning sent by God to get her to follow them somewhere. Elsewhere, in a completely unexplained scene, the deer surround other characters and stare at them as an apparent sort of judgment before leaving them alone.

Describing her thoughts about their circumstances, Rose recounts a story about a man to whom God sends people in order to save him from a flood.

The family describes their vacation as like one from hell.

Sexual Content

Ruth seemingly never wears a bra, and many of her shirts are all but see-through regarding how much they show.

Ruth comments on her belief that Clay wants to have sex with her, and she asks Clay if he’s ever had sex with a student. After dancing to a song with explicit sexual lyrics, Amanda and George contemplate starting an affair but eventually decide not to do so.

Clay and Amanda kiss. They also allude to having sex, and they go offscreen to do so. We see men and women in swimsuits, and Archie is seen staring at the rears of a couple women. A scene suggests someone is masturbating to a picture of a woman in a bathing suit (that he’s taken without her knowledge).

We see a dead body on a beach that appears to be naked, though the angle makes it difficult to discern.

Violent Content

Archie pulls a couple of his teeth out and vomits blood. Empty, automatic-driving Tesla vehicles slam into cars. An oil tanker slams into a beach. An airplane falls out of the sky, and we see some dead bodies littering the ground, one of which appears to have lost its feet.

A couple of people threaten each other with firearms. Amanda voices a concern that George might sexually assault their children.

A major city suffers a devastating attack.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is used 40 times, including one usage that’s preceded by “mother.” The s-word is heard 13 times. We also hear a couple instances of words like “a–,” “b–ch” and “h—.” God’s name is used in vain five times, including one pairing with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is used in vain twice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Amanda and George drink and mention that they’re getting intoxicated. Other people drink, too. Both Ruth and Clay vape, and Clay additionally smokes.

Other Negative Elements

Both Amanda and Ruth hold racist views and make racist comments. Amanda doesn’t immediately believe that George and Ruth are telling the truth, believing the two will harm them—and we later learn that this belief is, at least in part, because they are Black. Likewise, Ruth says that George shouldn’t be so trusting of people, especially if they’re white.

Whenever Rose goes to Archie for comfort, he only mocks, teases and ridicules her. Amanda, Archie and Ruth in particular are quite mean and selfish throughout the entirety of the film with very few moments of redemption.

Conclusion

There’s something to be said about taking some time to get away from technology. In fact, we’ve previously reviewed five books about the power and perils of it! The stuff both connects and divides us, teaches and indoctrinates us, lifts us up and pulls us down.

Leave the World Behind explores a bit of that idea, in a way. It’s a doomsday thriller that shows how quickly a technology-dependent society can break down when information is no longer readily available, and we’re left totally in the dark. And when we say “dark,” we don’t just mean in a “no GPS signal” kind of way. We also mean a moral way, too.

The film is at its strongest when it explores the paranoia between Clay and George’s families. Neither family truly understands what is happening; several characters’ first instinct is to protect their own without concern for others. We often see characters almost instantly take on an “us versus them” mentality that the more level-headed members of the cast have to dispel.

Were there a Christian message there, Leave the World Behind might’ve taught something about the inherent wickedness and selfishness of humanity, some of which we see or hear on screen in this film. But there’s no such spiritual moral here. Instead, we get a generally depressing conclusion, one that’s only marginally supplanted by a couple characters arguing against “leaving the world behind” and instead desiring to stick together.

Leave the World Behind shows some truth on its screen—truth about overdependence on technology, the depravity of man and the lack of love for fellow man. But truth without love is little more than a noisy gong, and that’s all this film ends up being.

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Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”