Save Yourselves!, 2020.
Written and Directed by Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson.
Starring Sunita Mani, John Reynolds, Ben Sinclair, Johanna Day, John Early, and Gary Richardson.
A young Brooklyn couple heads to an upstate cabin to unplug from their phones and reconnect with each other. Blissfully unaware of their surroundings, they are left to their own devices as the planet falls under attack.
Rather than a midlife crisis, it’s a millennial crisis in Save Yourselves! for Brooklyn-based couple Su and Jack (Sunita Mani and John Reynolds respectively) who spend too much time working and sucked into technology and not enough time connecting to one another. After running into an old and now successful friend (Ben Sinclair), the pair decide to take him up on his offer to stay in his remote getaway home for a weekend. They also decide it’s for the best to not bring any social devices with them, which turns out to be both good and bad as there happens to be an alien invasion taking place as soon as they take up lodging and start unpacking.
Now, for anyone seeing the phrase “alien invasion” and jumping the gun to something like War of the Worlds, it should be stressed that while violent and deadly these are anything but terrifying aliens in the traditional sense. Instead, they are Pouffes and they simply look like balls of fluff that hide around in plain sight before attacking with impossibly long tongues also sharp enough to impale humans. They also speed around looking like Sonic the Hedgehog in such a close resemblance the film doesn’t even shy away from commenting on it. The entire concept is about as ridiculous and low-budget as something you would see turning on the SyFy channel, but in this case, there’s an element of charm to it.
Less charming but effective enough is the quirky comedic performances from our leads, who are intentionally helpless. The first act is primarily comprised of audio and visual gags including everything from strange noises to murders going on in the background as they engage in activities such as hiking, drinking, making campfires, making out, and sometimes a combination of all of the above. Jack also wakes up in a state of delirium every night seeing things and trying to protect Su from invisible lions and whatnot. They are a goofy duo but very much in love, sorting their issues out, and likable in the process.
As a point, even these two numbskulls realize that something is not right and learn about metropolises being taken over and hordes of civilians seeking any manner of shelter available. It’s the typical genre stuff. The flip on the script here (the film was written and directed both by Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson) is that Su and Jack have accepted that they are not suitable for this situation at all. Despite the no technology rule, Su writes down and brings along a survey meant to get to know one another better which prompts some slight bickering, but eventually, Jack answers a question about something he has never told Su with overwhelming vulnerability (more importantly, it’s a well-delivered scene that allows viewers to easier buy into what’s to come). He laments the fact that he is not a masculine man and doesn’t even excel at being a modern-day sensitive man, which ends up giving some satisfaction to the basic cliché of working together to not only survive but also keep the relationship alive.
In that regard, Save Yourselves! is fine enough and glides along with ease. Not all of the humor lands (there’s an extended drug trip that passes along without any laughs) but it is amusing watching these two go out of their comfort zones to become better people and closer to one another, whether it’s by saving a life or temporarily becoming gun fanatics. The ending is somewhat abrupt considering there are still plenty of places for the film to go, but there’s also an ambiguous nature to it that is admirable given that it fits the thematic context. It’s a lighthearted and quirky alien invasion film that follows the Sundance template, nothing more and nothing less. Nothing needs saving here but there’s also nothing remarkable, although the Pouffes sure are cute.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com