Sam Esmail knows Leave the World Behind might split audiences

Leave the World Behind director Sam Esmail has revealed that the post-apocalyptic thriller could divide audiences.

The film follows a family as their vacation is interrupted by news of a mysterious blackout. As the threat grows more imminent, both families must decide how best to survive the potential crisis whilst grappling with their own place in a collapsing world.

Esmail, best known for his work on Mr Robot, spoke exclusively with Digital Spy about the Netflix film, hinting that the audience won’t necessarily get all the answers they might yearn for.

sam esmail
Kevin Mazur - Getty Images

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“We all went into this [with our] eyes wide open. When you do a film, especially a mystery thriller, it sort of still ends on a question mark that you risk polarising the audience,” he began. “I think we all committed to this belief that there should not be an easy answer.

“We shouldn't pull punches here because, like in life, we have to face ambiguities all the time. That was essential to the book and central to what I wanted to do in the film - there are no easy answers and solutions and we have to face that and go on regardless.”

Esmail, who also directed episodes of Homecoming, also spoke about the process of adapting the Rumaan Alam's 2020 novel, with the writer revealing that a certain plot strand peaked his interest ahead of the development.

mahershela ali, myhala herrold, julia roberts, ethan hawke in netflix's leave the world behind

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“The thing that made it click was really the cyber attack element because before I read the book, I had wanted to do a disaster film because I'm such a fan of that genre and I thought a cyber attack was a great backdrop for it,” he said.

“They are something that we all think of as ominous but [they’re] equally mystifying. I don't think anyone can really grapple with what that would look or feel like. So when I read the book, I immediately thought, 'Oh, this is an opportunity to graft that cyber attack disaster concept onto it'.”

Leave the World Behind streams on Netflix from December 8.

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