Leave the World Behind: 10 Similar Mind-Boggling Movies You Should Watch

With Sam Esmail in the director’s chair, ‘Leave the World Behind’ introduces us to the Sandfords as they rent a luxurious house on a coastal vacation. Complications soon arise when a couple arrives, claiming ownership of the property, and a cyber attack knocks out their communication channels. Stuck in what seems to be an apocalyptic scenario, they have an equal measure of distrust and need for each other. Initially isolated in the house, they are soon forced to venture out and face the dangers of a world gone mad. The film takes us on a thrilling and disconcerting journey, with the uneasy tension between its characters eventually giving way to outright terror as they face an ominous landscape intent on harming them.

With gripping performances from Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke building a sense of dread throughout it, ‘Leave the World Behind’ has moments dripping with tension and unease broken up by thrilling escape sequences. The apocalyptic survival experience offered by the film is underpinned by the struggles of a family to stay safe, the exploration of human nature, and charitability in times of crisis. It is an experience that can easily leave you wanting to bear witness to similar stories of struggle and strife in the face of an insurmountable catastrophe. Here’s a list of movies like ‘Leave the World Behind’ that are enough to satiate your appetite for something intense and thrilling.

10. How I Live Now (2013)

Amidst a world thrown into chaos, ‘How I Live Now’ takes us on a journey to find love, belonging, and safety. Daisy, a New York girl, arrives in the English countryside to stay with her Aunt and cousins. The initially aloof and distant girl soon finds herself making friends and feeling cared for. She falls in love with Eddie as a nuclear bomb explodes in London, creating a state of emergency, and leaving the citizens in panicked confusion. Tension builds with the family’s uncertainty and is brought to its peak as soldiers storm their house, dividing and taking the family into different camps.

Defiant of their fates, Daisy and Eddie swear to meet each other once again in their family home, and each takes up the perilous journey after breaking out of their respective camps. The Kevin Macdonald directorial shares the unbreakable bonds of family, love, and kinship with the Sam Esmail film, while taking a lighter approach to the apocalypse; of returning home amidst uncertainties and finding happiness in the most unlikely places.

9. It Comes at Night (2017)

‘It Comes at Night,’ directed by Trey Edward Shults, is a haunting post-apocalyptic thriller that revolves around a family, safeguarding themselves from an unknown deadly threat lurking outside. Fear and distrust heighten as they encounter another desperate group seeking refuge, leading to escalating tensions between them. The movie masterfully captures the psychological toll of isolation, the complexities of human nature under duress, and the fear of the unseen.

Through atmospheric tension and gripping sequences, ‘It Comes at Night’ will hold the attention of those immersed in the unsettling narrative of ‘Leave the World Behind.’ The film builds upon the dreaded thrill of its title with a secluded home amidst a desolate landscape, the horrors of uncertainty, and the haunting sense of paranoia in a world fraught with unknown dangers.

8. The Invitation (2015)

Helmed by director Karyn Kusama, ‘The Invitation’ is a gripping psychological thriller that follows Will, who along with his partner attends a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife, Eden, and her new husband. In the past, Eden had mysteriously disappeared, leaving Will after the tragic death of their son, and has now reappeared wishing to reconnect. Set against a tense and unnerving atmosphere, the film personifies the feeling of, “something is not right.”

As the evening progresses, hidden tensions resurface, and Will becomes increasingly suspicious of the hosts’ intentions. The gathering soon takes a sinister turn, enveloping the guests in a sense of foreboding and mistrust. If you were thrilled by the atmospheric suspense and escalating paranoia in ‘Leave the World Behind,’ ‘The Invitation’ will surpass your expectations, blurring the lines between reality and paranoia, and creating a chilling narrative that will leave you at the edge until the end.

7. Hidden (2015)

Directed by The Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross Duffer), ‘Hidden’ is a thriller movie centered around a family seeking refuge in a bomb shelter as an apocalyptic event unfolds on the surface. Spending what seems like an eternity in their prison-turned-lair, the family of three navigates confinement, isolation, and dwindling resources. Amidst eerie occurrences and an uncertain world outside, they remain trapped within their shelter for 301 days, until the 302nd day, when their subterranean abode is breached.

Much like Sam Esmail’s work, the film encapsulates the thrill of the unknown, and the desperation for survival, with an added element of horror. Through suspenseful sequences and the exploration of the human psyche in extreme circumstances, ‘Hidden’ presents a riveting narrative that delves into the primal instincts and resilience of individuals striving to endure amidst a mysterious and perilous reality.

6. Knock at the Cabin (2023)

An unsuspecting family of three is visited by four strangers wielding weapons but lacking murderous intent. The intruders bind them and ask them to make a choice, to choose one among their number as a sacrifice to save the rest of the world. The family’s indignant anger and fear, turn to confusion and dread as the visitors turn on the news, showing scenes of global devastation. The film by acclaimed director M. Night Shyamalan is intensely mysterious and mind-boggling, characteristics it shares with ‘Leave the World Behind,’ ultimately becoming an exploration of the human psyche and the indomitable spirit to protect loved ones.

5. Z for Zachariah (2015)

‘Z for Zachariah,’ helmed by director Craig Zobel, is a post-apocalyptic drama that unfolds in a remote valley following a catastrophic event. Ann (Margot Robbie) believes she might be the last human alive until encountering John Loomis, a scientist, seeking refuge. Their isolated existence takes an intriguing turn with the arrival of another survivor, Caleb (Chris Pine). Tensions rise as the dynamics shift and relationships become entangled.

The film intricately explores the complexities of human behavior, trust, and moral dilemmas in a dwindling world. Through atmospheric storytelling and the fragile balance of human connections, ‘Z for Zachariah’ shares themes of hope, suspicion, and the inherent unpredictability of human nature with Sam Esmail’s film amidst a backdrop of survival in a desolate environment.

4. Greenland (2020)

Ric Roman Waugh directed ‘Greenland’ presents a doomsday scenario of an unknown comet barreling towards Earth, projected to destroy its surface. The initial fragments of the comet arrive early and cause a mass panic to find safe haven. For John Garrity (Gerard Butler) and his family, the only chance of survival is to reach the bunkers in Greenland before the comet hits.

As the world falls apart, John and his family brave a terrifying reality together, facing the worst of nature as well as humanity on their perilous journey. Those who enjoyed the spectacle of panicked lawlessness in ‘Leave the World Behind,’ will take an immediate liking to the film and its gritty portrayal of human nature in a pure rush for survival.

3. Coherence (2013)

‘Coherence,’ directed by James Ward Byrkit, is a mind-bending science fiction thriller centered on a dinner party among friends. As a passing comet disrupts reality, causing eerie occurrences and fracturing their perceptions, the film delves into the complexities of quantum physics and the human psyche. Confusion ensues when the group discovers multiple versions of themselves and confronts the disorienting nature of their altered reality.

Tensions rise, paranoia grips them, and trust dissipates as they grapple with the unsettling and inexplicable events unfolding around them. Through a blend of suspense and psychological unease, ‘Coherence’ creates an experience sure to be enjoyed by fans of ‘Leave the World Behind,’ artfully exploring the fragility of human perceptions.

2. The Road (2009)

A haunting post-apocalyptic drama, ‘The Road,’ directed by John Hillcoat, follows a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son navigating a desolate and unforgiving landscape to reach the sea in hopes of finding haven. Confusion grips the characters as they grapple with the remnants of a shattered society devolving into looters and cannibals. Their scenario is a desperate one of survival, with the father having two bullets in his revolver and explaining to his son, who was born after the apocalypse, that good people still remain in the world. Through its stark visuals and emotionally charged narrative, ‘The Road’ will enrapture those who enjoyed the post-apocalyptic exploration of ‘Leave the World Behind.’

1. Take Shelter (2011)

‘Take Shelter’ follows a surreal and chilling tale centering around Curtis (Michael Shannon), who dreams of an encroaching storm. Problematically, he has these dreams with his eyes wide open. With no one seeing or hearing what he does, he tries to remain rooted in reality but is unable to ignore the overpowering feeling of a coming storm. Much to the chagrin of his wife, he begins construction of a tornado shelter behind his house, his efforts being met with ridicule in his community.

As his grasp on actuality becomes increasingly tenuous, his inner turmoil reaches a breaking point, unable to decide if he is saving his family from a storm or dooming them with himself. The psychological thriller directed by Jeff Nichols explores the fragility of perception, through a gripping narrative and a stellar performance by Michael Shannon, making ‘Take Shelter’ a must-watch for fans of ‘Leave the World Behind.’

Read More: Where Was Leave the World Behind Filmed?