The Sandfords and Scotts encounter a large herd of deer in Netflix’s disaster movie ‘Leave the World Behind’ while dealing with a mysterious emergency. Upon spotting a couple of deer first, Clay considers their sighting as a good omen and a bright start to his family’s vacation in the house they rented out for a weekend. Soon, the herd becomes a scary presence in and around the property, especially after the animals surround Ruth Scott. Amanda comes to Ruth’s rescue and saves her from the herd but she fails to understand why such an enormous number of deer show up in the woods! SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Response to the Impending Doom
The herd of deer can be seen as an indicator of the impending disaster. It is widely believed that animals can sense disasters and hazards. When the man-made calamity starts to unfold, the deer sense the same before the humans and start their migration, likely to a safer place. The house and the adjoining property where the Sandfords arrive to spend their weekend seemingly happen to be located in the middle of the deer’s migration route, which explains why they repeatedly show up before the residents of the place. When Rose sees hundreds of deer, the country doesn’t realize the gravity of the disaster they are going to confront but the animals do.
“The eye couldn’t take them [the herd of deer] all in, couldn’t find them in the shadows of the trees. Only the people who knew such things knew there were around thirty-six thousand deer in the county. They were not the deer Rose had seen but were on their way to join those. A mass migration. A disaster response. A disaster indicator. A disaster unfolding,” Rumaan Alam’s eponymous source novel reads, clarifying why the herbivores group together and appear before the Sandfords and Scotts. Unfortunately, Rose fails to comprehend why the animals show up in enormous numbers at the property to warn her family and the Scotts about the disaster that has been unfolding.
The Absence of the Natural Order
The herd of deer and their aggressive behavior make it clear that the natural order present on the planet has ceased to exist for good in the United States. Despite witnessing several startling occurrences, the Sandfords and Scotts take a long while to understand what’s really happening in the country. By the time they panic and realize the need for a refuge for their survival, which understandably contradicts their natural behavior, the animals have started to look for ways to safeguard themselves. In addition to the deer, a flock of geese flies away making noises, foreshadowing the disaster, while G. H. sets out to learn more about the national emergency.
Similarly, the flamingos leave their natural habitat and end up in the pool of G. H.’s house, indicating how the order in the world of fauna completely changes due to the actions of human beings. Alam’s novel and Sam Esmail’s film rely on these bizarre happenings and sightings to bring out the strangeness of the apocalypse that has been unfolding in the country. More than explosions and military forces, the extraordinary presence of the deer and flamingos succeeds in enhancing the mystery that revolves around the national calamity and the eventual apocalypse the two families confront.
Esmail’s film hides the severity of the disaster to increase the tension in the same since the invisible is scarier than what is exposed. The writer-director effectively used the animals as tools to depict the calamity without exposing what it explicitly is.