No One Will Save You, 2023.
Written and Directed by Brian Duffield.
Starring Kaitlyn Dever, Elizabeth Kaluev, Zack Duhame, Lauren L. Murray, Geraldine Singer, Dane Rhodes, Daniel Rigamer, Evangeline Rose, and Dari Lynn Griffin.
An exiled anxiety-ridden homebody must battle an alien who’s found its way into her home.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, No One Will Save You wouldn’t exist.
Writer/director Brian Duffield has a knack for creating unique concepts. In his debut feature, Spontaneous, high school students were having their heads exploded at random for no real discernible reason (brilliant commentary on the unfortunate dangers of modern public schools). With No One Will Save You, he is taking standard alien tropes, placing them as the intruders of a home invasion story, pitting them against Kaitlyn Dever’s introverted, artistically creative homebody Brynn, exiled and ostracized by the townsfolk surrounding her remote, cluttered but sizable home which seemingly hasn’t been cleaned since the tragic loss of her mother.
This is also a nearly dialogue-free film, which is no problem for Kaitlyn Dever or Brian Duffield. The former is highly specific with her facial reactions and body language, telling everything viewers need to know about her current lonely life situation, how she makes the most of it and enjoys herself, some regrets she has, and how she has no interest in letting the hate from others bring her down (such as an early scene where she is dancing in old-fashioned dresses by herself, answering a ringing phone while twirling only to hang up still smiling before the caller can get his nasty insults out, and most importantly, still dancing.)
In roughly 10 minutes, Brian Duffield effectively communicates who Brynn is, her cheery personality despite solitude and still grieving her mother and a friend she therapeutically writes letters for, her anxiety, a town disinterested and, for some unknown but slightly predictable reason, disgusted with her. This is efficient filmmaking that quickly but compellingly sets up the basics before launching into alien home invasion scares, with a resourceful Brynn hiding and fighting (there’s a wince-inducing moment involving a refrigerator door slamming shut.) Smartly, the terror is less focused on jump scares and more on skillful cinematography from Aaron Morton that keeps Brynn and the alien in the frame, keeping the latter shrouded in darkness.
There are elements of Brynn’s past that she must reckon with, although Brian Duffield is comfortable letting the story exist in the background until the last 10 minutes when it’s time to spell it out for anyone who hasn’t put the pieces together. Again, it’s not entirely difficult to figure out the general idea of why she has turned into this town’s enemy, but inside the home-invasion horror execution that actually leaves the home, the execution is tense and suspenseful with more than enough variations on alien designs, spooky tricks, and eerie developments to keep one in the dark on where this is actually going and how it’s going to end.
That’s also no easy feat for something this simplistic, stripped-down, tightly wound, and well-crafted. Even if the cat-and-mouse chase begins to feel like it’s going in circles, Brian Duffield has the self-awareness to introduce something new, whether it be his take on UFO lights sucking people into the air, alien crab-walking, or simply moving to a new location (there is an exciting kill that takes place inside a car) to ensure that there is a freshness to the thrills.
Admittedly, No One Will Save You is less satisfying as a story, not so much because the parallels and metaphors are obvious, but that there isn’t much depth or detail to any of it beyond Kaitlyn Dever, greatly elevating what’s on the page. She is tremendous and immensely watchable here, whether she is panicking, fighting back, or giving nuanced reactions to hateful townsfolk. As a bare-bones tale of survival, this is finely crafted and taut.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com