*This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist*
The conceit of Brian Duffield’s No One Will Save You sounds terrific on paper: Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) must face off against an alien who invades her home. That sounds simple enough, but it gets even cooler when you find out Brynn doesn’t utter a single line of dialogue. The only “lines” we hear are perceptible in the background and unimportant to the story.
Instead, Brynn communicates with her physical emotions as the alien inexplicably shows up in her house, and we’re then thwarted in her confrontation without much context behind it. It doesn’t matter: an alien is in her house. Brynn must defend it. That’s it. The movie does take some big storytelling swings as it progresses, which could theoretically make it feel like 2023’s Barbarian (a horror movie you should watch without seeing a single piece of footage). Still, Zach Cregger’s film has something that Brian Duffield’s movie doesn’t: it knows when to subvert expectations and when to entertain. With No One Will Save You, Duffield wants to consistently subvert and surprise audiences that he forgets to make a good movie ultimately.
No One Will Save You Doesn’t Have Much to Offer
Beyond a story that consistently tries to dodge viewer expectations, No One Will Save You doesn’t have much to offer. Sure, there are a few surprising moments here and there (you’ll have to discover these moments on your own), and there were storytelling beats I didn’t expect would occur this early on. Still, the overarching picture of the movie rests upon a certain character relationship that will likely make or break the audience’s enjoyment of the movie. Without spoiling a thing, let’s say that this arc starts semi-decent, only to morph into irredeemable territory to the point where the audience can’t root for Brynn as one terrible decision seals her overall fate.
The rest of the movie isn’t that great, too: minus a few decent action flourishes and a Bernard Hermann-inspired score from Joseph Trapanese, most fights between Brynn and the alien fall relatively flat. You see many moments coming a mile away, especially when Duffield and cinematographer Aaron Morton set up the alien as a jumpscare machine, which they do to extensive heights here.
The CGI on the alien is also hokey — it moves like anyone’s stereotypical definition of what an alien should look and act like. There’s never a moment in which we’re scared for Brynn, even if the alien does scary poses in front of her. Ooooh, be afraid! It’s staring right at her! None of it sticks, and the more you think about the alien’s [non-]motivations and ever-changing (and contradictory) powers, the less sense it starts to make with the thinly developed world the audience is forced to sit through.
Kaitlyn Dever is No One Will Save You‘s Saving Grace
The only actor who carries the film from beginning to end is Dever, even if her character arc is highly problematic for reasons I’d love to explain but are massive spoilers. The film is theoretically best experienced blind, so I’ll say this about Dever’s performance: she was the perfect choice to play a character whose emotional progression slowly relies on her physical and facial performance.
The film may be a great case experiment to study micro physiognomy in film for the uninitiated, thanks to Dever’s mostly silent performance. Because of this, I was mildly invested in the movie and wanted to figure out how this whole ordeal was going to end, but it consistently takes too many swings and walks back on them two scenes later instead of sticking to some of the bigger plot twists and deliver a truly subversive picture.
No One Will Save You consistently walks back on some of the film’s more surprising moments as if it truly needs to satiate audience expectations and deliver a conventional movie following specific tropes instead of actively surprising audiences and blowing their expectations out of the water. The movie never does that, and it is the biggest sign of un-confidence regarding Duffield’s script, which is one of the year’s most unimpressive. As a genre exercise, it acts as a nice distraction for 93 minutes (especially if you’re under the weather and are looking for something to make you rest for a bit). As an actual movie, it’s not impressive.
No One Will Save You will be released on Hulu in the United States and on Disney+ internationally on September 22. Are you excited for the movie? What do you think of genre exercises like this one? Let us know, and be sure to follow us on social media, we’re always watching.