A Loner Discovers That ‘No One Will Save You’ in a Chilling Streaming Horror Flick | Movie+TV Reviews | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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A Loner Discovers That ‘No One Will Save You’ in a Chilling Streaming Horror Flick

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Published October 11, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.


Kaitlyn Dever plays a young outcast who must save herself from an unearthly menace in this streaming chiller. - COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS
  • Courtesy of 20th Century Studios
  • Kaitlyn Dever plays a young outcast who must save herself from an unearthly menace in this streaming chiller.

Over the past few weeks, I've been hearing excited reports about a new horror movie streaming on Hulu and directed by Brian Duffield, who made his debut with the underrated dark comedy Spontaneous. No One Will Save You is a tense home invasion and alien invasion flick in one, but its most striking feature is that it has (by my count) only one true line of dialogue.

The deal

Twentysomething Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) lives in a world of her own. Her home in rural Ohio is a cottage-core dream, all crafty tchotchkes and fairy lights. She ventures into town mainly to maintain her mother's grave, which she does with loving care. She sews her own retro dresses and dances solo to the tunes of a simpler time. She even has a miniature village to replace the real town where she is an outcast, stared at and spat on by passersby.

One day, a circle of dead grass appears on Brynn's lawn. She hoses it down. But with the night comes a less manageable incursion — terrifyingly inhuman visitors who arrive on spaceships, armed with telekinesis. Shunned by her neighbors, Brynn now has an unprecedented threat to expel from her world. She rises to the challenge.

Will you like it?

There's a contradiction at the heart of No One Will Save You that tells us something about the future of film — good and bad. On the one hand, the movie looks and sounds like a mind-blowing theatrical experience. Aaron Morton's wide-screen cinematography makes the action startlingly legible, even in night scenes. Sound editors Will Files and Chris Terhune (The Batman) give the aliens such an impressive vocabulary of clicks, booms and whirs that we don't miss the human dialogue.

It's a testament to the visual effects that the aliens never stop being terrifying, even though their design is familiar to the point of being retro. Older viewers may be reminded of the mixture of sublime awe and skin-crawling dread they felt the first time they saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Signs in a theater.

Given all that, isn't it a crime this movie isn't on the big screen? Not according to the director. In an interview with entertainment website Collider, Duffield described No One Will Save You as "directed and designed specifically to be watched at home. I think if it came out theatrically, it would probably be a lesser movie."

He's referring to the movie's less conventional aspects — things that he sees himself as having "gotten away with." Whereas big-budget spectacles spell out plot points, for instance, No One Will Save You leaves much to your imagination — excitingly or maddeningly, depending on your perspective.

The lack of dialogue frees the film from exposition, the instrument that Hollywood uses to make sure no viewer feels left behind. Here, bits of backstory arrive through visuals — letters, gravestone inscriptions — but there are no government officials or scientists or TV anchors to give us an overview of the invasion. We experience everything through Brynn's eyes.

And Brynn is no standard, average-Jane protagonist, even if her immediate goal — to stay alive — is relatable. Most action movies would make her a comic supporting character, because it's hard to imagine anyone less qualified to fight aliens. Not only is she a walking mood board, but also her grasp on reality is sometimes tenuous, for reasons that the film teases and eventually reveals.

Dever specializes in characters who are damaged yet fierce, unimposing yet resourceful — the scrappy teen marijuana farmer on "Justified," the rape victim charged with lying in "Unbelievable." She makes us care about Brynn without overplaying the pathos inherent in a trauma plot — because yes, that's what this is. And we're not just talking about the Hollywood cliché of giving an action protagonist a sad backstory so they can have a character arc: Brynn's messed-up psyche turns out to be central to the film's resolution.

No One Will Save You is, indeed, a strange hybrid, one that might not thrive outside the brave new world of streaming. As the film gets trippier and more vibes-driven toward the end, some viewers — particularly horror fans who came for the expert jump scares — will lose faith. Some may even charge the movie with being a stealth exercise in millennial navel-gazing.

To the extent that No One Will Save You holds together, it's because Brynn is such an intriguingly unlikely heroine, lurking in her childhood home among relics of her dead mom like a candy-colored Norman Bates. Her pariah status turns out to be her strength. If she seems like an appropriate version of Ellen Ripley for the 21st century, perhaps that's a dead giveaway that the pandemic has made loners mainstream.

If you like this, try...

A Quiet Place (2018; Paramount+, rentable): No One Will Save You isn't the first horror film to cut most of the dialogue. In this postapocalyptic flick, alien invaders hunt by sound, so the only way to survive is to be as quiet as mice.

Heavenly Creatures (1994; check your local library): A lot of things about No One Will Save You made more sense once I learned that one of Duffield's inspirations was this dark Peter Jackson drama, which launched the careers of Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey.

"Marianne" (2019; Netflix): This witchy French series (regrettably canceled after one season) resembles No One Will Save You only in its masterful use of jump scares, but it deserves to be recommended to horror fans at every opportunity.

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