Kaitlyn Dever stars in Brian Duffield’s No One Will Save You, a sci-fi thriller so lifeless, it could be mistaken for an alien carcass.
Aliens have been invading Earth at the movies for more than 70 years. We’ve seen them in grey spacesuits, giant green heads, pulsating pods, and even floating pieces of cloth. With all the flying saucers that’ve visited the big screen over time, it can be hard to come up with a new way to tell these kinds of stories. So give writer/director Brian Duffield (Spontaneous) some credit. He tried to take a nearly hundred-year-old sub-genre reinvented countless times and deliver a brand new spin to it. Of course, there’s that operative word…”tried.”
No One Will Save You, a Hulu Original Film from 20th Century Studios, follows the precocious Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) living in a cozy old house deep in the woods. She wears frilly dresses, builds quaint model houses, and tries her hardest to put on a friendly face for her oddly terse neighbors. They won’t look her in the eye and every time she tries to greet them, they turn away in disgust.
Brynn is truly isolated, except for one night when she has an uninvented guest creeping through her home. It cuts her power, moves quicker than any predator, and is trying to mimic her movement for some reason. Now she has to think on her feet and fend off her threatening trespasser (or trespassers) all by herself.
Home invasion of the body snatchers.
The big hook of No One Will Save You is its dialogue, or lack thereof in this case. Duffield has a variety of genre scripts to his name (Love and Monsters, Underwater, The Babysitter), but his latest is also his most minimal given that there is almost no actual dialogue in the movie. Not that it’s a silent picture, as the sound editing here is good at emphasizing every tense movement Brynn or the aliens makes with floorboard creaks and slight body ticks.
One would think that lack of dialogue would help emphasize the dread peppered throughout the movie and skip over any drab exposition about what the aliens are or why they’re terrorizing Brynn. Even the tight 93-minute runtime ensures all possible fat would be cut out of the usual alien invasion setup and the movie can just grind the audience with nail-biting tension.
It’s one thing for a movie to be minimal, but No One Will Save You is damn near barren. There is nothing to get emotionally invested in or latch onto here, like Duffield had the routine setup and just thought that it was bold enough to throw a martian into a home invasion thriller and that would be worthy of a feature-length project.
A heart-pounding thriller with no heart.
The character of Brynn doesn’t have enough of a physical presence or unique personality to carry a feature without dialogue, nor does she have any kind of special skill that makes her tussling with spacemen fun to watch. She doesn’t interact with any other humans in the movie to flesh out her character for an emotional climax, nor does she grow tougher while battling the aliens for some goofy sci-fi action.
Meanwhile, Duffield keeps adding special intergalactic abilities to the creatures as the movie goes along merely for the sake of keeping his limited story sputtering about. It doesn’t help that said spacemen don’t have an interesting design, being a bland mix of the featureless aliens from Signs and the four-legged beasts from A Quiet Place.
A Quiet Pace.
That John Krasinski-helmed hit is actually a good comparative marker against No One Will Save You, being another minimalist alien thriller with little-to-no dialogue. Krasinski and the writers actually took time, however, to establish the personalities of the film’s lead family, their capabilities in a dire situation, and the rules of their hyper-hearing adversaries pretty early on.
Even though the characters all use sign language and facial expression instead of dialogue, they bounce off each other to make them more three-dimensional to the audience, giving us clear reasons to root for them. Some of those emotional character moments might be cheesy and the movie may write itself into a corner a few times to keep up the suspense, but it still works in getting an audience invested in a tired premise.
The bottom line.
Duffield, in an effort to skirt any cliches or tired tropes, has instead made a heart-pounding thriller with no heart. Kaitlyn Dever is a capable actor showing genuine terror in some scenes, but she needs more to work with for an audience to gravitate to her plight. The fear of an otherworldly threat is something that can always be cinematic, but it has to be given some kind of twist to make it stand out amongst its predecessors.
No One Will Save You thinks its clever by stripping the sci-fi thriller premise to its bare bones as a means of experimentation. But if there’s no intelligent expert realizing the creeping creatures are closing in like Dr. Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or an average joe trying to outrun the invaders like Ray in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, or even just a cocky pilot that wants to punch an alien in the face like Capt. Hiller in Independence Day, what’s left?
No One Will Save You is now streaming on Hulu. Watch the trailer here.
NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU - 3/10