Leave the World Behind Ending Explained: What Is Really Happening In Netflix's New Mysterious Thriller?
Leave the World Behind Ending Explained: What Is Really Happening In Netflix’s New Mysterious Thriller?(Photo Credit –IMDb)

The new project coming from Sam Esmail, the creator of Mr. Robot, is a film full of mystery that might actually be tapping into the worst fears of the modern era and be more realistic than we think.

What Is The Origin Of Leave The World Behind?

The creation of Leave the World Behind comes from a very interesting source. The film is an adaptation of a novel written by Rumaan Alam. The novel is filled with even more mystery than the film, and in some ways, it makes the film look clearer and more forward in comparison. Alam’s novel follows a very similar series of events. However, the movie suggests a more direct explanation of what is happening. Meanwhile, the novel avoids even talking about what is really happening. This makes the film a bit more realistic, for sure.

What Is Actually Happening In Leave the World Behind?

First, we need to take a look at Sam Esmail, who is better known as the writer-director behind Mr. Robot, one of the most popular thriller TV series of the last decade. In that series, Esmail managed to create an alternate reality where technology fails society and brings it down. Esmail also explored many other topics besides technology. We had explorations on corruption, conspiracy theories, and, of course, mental health.

Esmail feels like the perfect director to bring a story like Leave the World Behind to the screen. Esmail is not only adapting the story but making it its own. To achieve this, Esmail focuses the majority of the running time on how technology, again, fails humanity and leaves it adrift in its own home. Throughout the movie, we get clues on what is happening: communications are down, animals are as confused as self-driving cars and a terrible sound can be heard, leaving some people with horrible consequences.

The movie then develops two different possibilities for what is happening. The first possibility is that the USA is being attacked by a foreign enemy. The character of George explains that during his experience working with people of high net worth, he overheard the construction of a plan to disrupt a country. Cutting communications, leaving the population to themselves, and then just sitting and watching as people do the dirty job themselves by turning into each other. The overreliance on technology would leave humanity in the dark ages once again if, all of a sudden, we couldn’t gain access to it anymore.

The explanation that a foreign enemy is responsible is quite possible, but, as George himself says, the plan was developed by the USA itself. Thus, the possibility that it is the USA that is doing this to its own people is a more direct but also more horrible explanation. By putting its own population through the wringer, the cabal that runs the world (which the movie puts forward as something that could exist) would win a lot more control over the population, resetting society a couple of steps back.

In the book, both of these possibilities are just two of many. The movie allows for more supernatural explanations of what is happening, from the biblical apocalypse to aliens, but the film remains more grounded.

How Does Leave the Word Behind Compare To Knock at the Cabin?

Curiously, the beginning of the year brought us a similar film directed, this time by M. Night Shyamalan. That film was Knock at the Cabin. The film also dealt with an end-of-the-world scenario that feels very similar to Leave the World Behind. In Knock at the Cabin, we also have a family that decides to go to another house, away from the city, to spend time together, only to see themselves trapped in what could be the end of the world. Both films are also adaptations of a novel. However, they deal with the end-of-the-world scenario differently.

While Leave the World Behind goes for a more grounded and realistic way of depicting the causes of the apocalypse, Knock at the Cabin goes for a supernatural explanation. In that film, four strangers receive dreams that point them toward the family of the protagonists. The encounter between the dreamers and the family ends up being a battle of beliefs. Is faith enough to make the world make sense? The end of the world in that movie is clearly supernatural, as there are many references to the plagues of Egypt and other biblical references.

Meanwhile, Leave the World Behind makes a reference to a real-life event that is actually pivotal to what is happening in the movie. The movie references the Havana Syndrome, an event that was first reported in 2016 by the workers of the USA Embassy in Cuba. The syndrome caused symptoms in its victims—symptoms that share a lot of similarities with the ones we see in the film. The origins of the Havana Syndrome are still a mystery, but the movie uses some real-life hypotheses to structure its plot.

What Is The Significance Of “Friends” In Leave The World Behind?

Now, while the movie does present clear answers to what is happening in terms of its plot, what is the meaning of the ending with “Friends”? This is more of a thematic ending and serves as the movie’s closing statement on humanity as a whole. In the movie, we meet the family’s youngest child, Rose, who feels alienated from the rest of the family. She feels no one pays attention to her or is interested in what she is saying. This is a comment on today’s society, where everyone is trapped inside their own bubbles and echo chambers enabled by social media, and no one is actually listening to each other.

Rose then attaches all his insecurities to a work of fiction from before the internet era, Friends, a TV series focused on a group of characters that are always there for each other. The movie makes the statement that while technology has made communication easier, it has also made understanding harder, and we right now should focus on listening and helping each other as friends who live on the same planet and will share the same fate no matter what.

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