Have you ever felt a tingling negative feeling in the back of your mind, even when you were enjoying your holiday? We probably all have. Even if things are going fine and you’re on a trip, sometimes it feels like something could go wrong at any time. No, it is not “unagi” (Friends reference if you don’t get it), but it is our trust issues playing tricks with our minds. Amanda Sandford (played by Julia Roberts) from Leave the World Behind is a perfect example of someone who had major trust issues with people. Frustrated in her daily life with work pressure, all Amanda needed was fresh air and a perfect holiday at a beach to relax her mind, but who would have thought she would eventually find herself and her family struggling to survive an apocalypse?
Who Was Amanda Sandford?
Amanda, a senior advertising executive who had rented a luxurious mansion in Long Island and decided to surprise her husband with a sudden gateway, couldn’t have imagined her holiday plan would end up being a nightmare. She was exhausted from her mundane lifestyle, traveling from home to the office, and telling a bunch of lies to her clients to sell a product. Amanda wanted to take a pause and enjoy the beach with her family, but at the serene beach of Long Island, Amanda and her family’s first encounter with a massive oil tanker failing to navigate the route and ending up crashing into the beach terrified them to the core. Initially, Amanda and Clay didn’t pay much attention to the incident, but things began to take a dark turn when, in the middle of the night, Amanda heard a knock at the door of the mansion. Amanda and Clay found two strangers, G. H. Scott and his daughter Ruth, coming to their doorstep bearing the news of a blackout and claiming this mansion to be their property. Even though G. H. Scott was polite and patient enough to introduce himself and explain what brought them there, Amanda did not welcome them at all.
Amanda couldn’t even believe a man of color could be rich enough to afford a luxurious mansion to live in. She didn’t express that disbelief outwardly, but her indirect response was humiliating enough. Even though she managed to ignore the stereotypical thoughts for a while, Amanda couldn’t help feeling apprehensive about the fact that she was about to live in this mansion with two strangers. It’s alright to be terrified of strangers, especially in the middle of the night when someone whom you don’t know suddenly shows up at your rental holiday residence, but not everyone out there is dangerous or a fraudster, which is something Amanda couldn’t bring herself to believe. Amanda asked G. H. to show his ID and even threatened to complain about the father and daughter to the rental service; however, Clay managed to calm her down. G. H. Scott finally gave them proof by opening a cabinet with his key, which was enough for Clay to understand that G. H. was the owner of the house, but Amanda was still paranoid. She came up with numerous explanations and theories about how G. H. could have gotten access to the keys, but it didn’t make sense to Clay, who tried his best to convince Amanda to let the father and daughter stay for the night. Clay assured her that he would ask them to go if he sensed anything wrong about them, but given the blackout causing a power outage, which was announced as a national emergency, Clay believed it would be a sensible decision to trust these strangers and let them stay at this place.
Did Amanda Resolve Her Trust Issues With G.H. Scott?
The next morning, when Amanda and Ruth got along pretty well, she began to like Ruth’s company. At least she had someone to talk to while her husband, Clay, was out there looking for newspapers, and Scott went out to get any information. But Ruth was sometimes a little ruthless, as she knew that there was a tad bit of racism in Amanda’s mind. Back home, when Clay showed his family the red confetti falling out of the drone, Archie said the sentence written on it translated into “Death to America,” which terrified Amanda to some extent, so she decided to leave for the city immediately. However, they had to return right away, as some autonomous cars were crashing into each other and blocking the only road that led to the city. That evening, Amanda and Scott, realizing there was no way out, decided to talk and have some fun with booze and music. But when Scott’s explanation about his client’s affiliation with the “evil cabals” freaked her out, she decided to lift her mood with loud music. There was an undeniable sexual tension between Amanda and Scott, which neither of them tried to pursue. But in the midst of all this, we saw how gradually Amanda, from having a paranoid personality with trust issues, evolved into someone who became outgoing and more accepting than she was before. Amanda even realized that she had behaved in a very wrong way toward Scott, which made her apologize to him. Scott, who had already sensed that Amanda was only a caring mother, worrying about her children’s safety, gave their friendship a shot. But despite the night remaining memorable to both Amanda and Scott, the morning began with yet another bizarre and horrible surprise.
Will Amanda Survive?
Amanda woke up to a horrible surprise: Archie’s teeth were mysteriously falling out. Neither Clay nor Amanda could find an explanation for what was happening, so G.H. stepped in to help. His contractor, Danny, who stayed in the neighborhood, was a conspiracy theorist who was already aware of the upcoming apocalypse. Therefore, it was safe to assume that Danny would probably have sufficient medication, like antibiotics, to help Archie heal his gums. Meanwhile, when Clay and Scott took Archie to Danny, Amanda’s little daughter, Rose, went missing from the house. Ruth discovered that Rose had taken a bicycle from the garage, so she must have gone to the woods. Amanda and Ruth began to look for Rose and ended up at a worn-out forest cabin, inside which the two of them began an argument. While Amanda was getting frustrated at not being able to find any sign of Rose, Ruth began to stress over whether or not her mother was still alive. Putting an end to this pointless argument at this time, when Amanda and Ruth finally stepped out of the cabin, Ruth found herself surrounded by the herd of deer who appeared in the woods after the animal migration was affected by the invasion.
On the other hand, when Scott and Clay almost begged Danny to provide some help, Danny told them about a bunker in the neighborhood to save themselves from the apocalypse. Scott explained the situation as per his knowledge about a three-way invasion strategy that was an effective way to topple a government from within. In these stages, the invaders targeted the citizens of the city to make them isolated and turn against each other by orchestrating covert attacks and spreading misinformation. The aim was to dismantle an entire nation by inciting a civil war between the citizens, which would eventually lead to collapse. We witnessed the onset of an internal war through the small arguments between Ruth and Amanda or Danny and Scott, which were only the beginning. Therefore, if they needed to get out of this harrowing situation, all they needed to do was stand united.
In the concluding moments of the film, we see Ruth getting terrified by the herd of deer approaching her, but Amanda, forgetting all the differences and previous arguments between them, comes to Ruth’s aid. Both Amanda and Ruth began to shout frantically at the deer, causing them to run away. This incident suggests how the unity between Ruth and Amanda eventually rescued Ruth’s life. The film concludes with Ruth and Amanda witnessing a major explosion in the city from afar, while on the other hand, Rose ends up finding the bunker at the Thornes’ mansion, where she finally finds the CD of Friends, which served as the only hope in her life in such a dire time. As Amanda also managed to find the mansion and the bicycle that Rose had taken from the house, they would eventually head to the bunker, where probably Scott, Clay, and Archie would also join them. Probably both Scott and Amanda’s families would be able to save themselves from the apocalypse, but how long they would survive in the bunker is up to speculation.