It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from; the urge to survive is the most base instinct. Now streaming on Netflix, this post-apocalyptic thriller explores the drive to survive while leaning on its culture instead of navigating around it.
The Worthy is a 2016 Emirati sci-fi thriller movie directed by Ali F. Mostafa. Like many post-apocalyptic movies, it gets the world-ending out of the way first: The world’s water supply has been contaminated, but one family and a small group of others have sought refuge in a warehouse with a water supply.
The Worthy follows a group, led by caring father Shoaib, that exists peacefully until Shoaib is tempted out of safety by malicious survivors, only to be saved by two passersby. Shoaib’s son, Eissa, pleads with him to let them stay as they saved his life, but his daughter Maryam is skeptical.
Shoaib allows them to stay — and that’s his fatal mistake. Now, the movie turns from a quiet story of survival to an epic tale of cat and mouse, testing the strengths of familial bonds, the urge to survive, and the limits of trust.
This may make it sound like countless other survival movies, but there’s one aspect that none of those films have — a unique cultural background. In the prologue, Eissa describes how society crumbled after the water supply was contaminated:
“Entire cities were erased from existence. The land that gave birth to heaven's religions was utterly laid to waste. Those of us who managed to survive had nothing left to hold on to... nothing except our faith in humanity... and in each other.”
The religious aspects permeate every scene of this film. An intruder, Mussa, proclaims, “I am the Aleph and the Tav,” the same thing Jesus says in the Bible, usually translated in English as “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”
Despite how Abu Dhabi is seen as a global metropolis in today’s culture, very few Emirati films exist. In fact, 2016 saw the release of its first two science fiction films ever. The Abu Dhabi in The Worthy (and the other 2016 sci-fi film, Aerials) is dirty and crumbling, making the post-apocalyptic setting even more shocking.
Frankly, there’s no other movie like The Worthy. While other international films may try to parrot Hollywood tropes and story beats, this movie leans on its unique cultural footprint to offer something completely different. It’s a new world for the characters after the apocalypse, but it’s a new world for American viewers as well, offering a glimpse into another era of society and another country’s way of life.
The Worthy is now streaming on Netflix.