The Movie Waffler New Release Review - NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU

No One Will Save You review
reclusive young woman fights for survival when her home becomes the epicentre of an alien invasion.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Brian Duffield

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Ginger Cressman, Zack Duhame, Geraldine Singer, Dari Lynn Griffin

No One Will Save You poster

If you're making a horror or thriller movie centred around a protagonist's fight for survival, it's best to tell the viewer as little as possible about that protagonist. This allows the viewer to easily project themselves onto the character, along with their own apprehensions and fears. All we know about Ben in Night of the Living Dead is that he's trying to get through the night without being bitten by zombies. Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie in the original Halloween is a decidedly average teenage girl who just wants to get through her babysitting shift without getting butchered. There's absolutely nothing remarkable about the family in Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes. Of course, all of these films are open to subtextual readings, but on the surface they're simple survival thrillers that never get bogged down with any clunky character backstories.

If only the same could be said for today's survival thrillers. For some reason, filmmakers are no longer content to simply deliver visceral thrills, they have to make their movies about something else (usually "trauma") on a textual level. Writer/director Brian Duffield's No One Will Save You is a classic example of this current phenomenon. For about its first two thirds it's a thrilling alien invasion movie but it falls apart in a final act that pauses the thrills to explore its protagonist's traumatic backstory. As a result, like so many of its contemporaries, it doesn't feel so much like a standalone movie as an extended Twilight Zone episode. I love The Twilight Zone, but Rod Serling was well aware that such stories are best told in 30 minutes, and it's no coincidence that the weakest season of the show is the fourth, which expanded the show to an hour long format.

No One Will Save You review

Through some canny visual storytelling, Duffield tells us all we really need to know about our heroine, Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever), in his film's opening minutes. Without a word of dialogue we learn that she's a seamstress who lives alone in a seemingly idyllic house by a picturesque lake, which she inherited when her mother passed away a few years prior. We also discover that she seems to suffer from some sort of agoraphobic fear of running into other people: she dons a cap and sunglasses when she has to head into town to post some mail and she cowers behind her car when she spots some neighbours on her way home.

This is plenty of setup for the heroine of a survival thriller, and making her an apparent agoraphobic seems like a clever touch. It's specific enough to make the character stand out but not unique enough to distance her from the audience. But then the dreaded traumatic backstory arrives in the form of Maude, a childhood friend of Brynn's who seems to have been involved in an incident that has turned the whole town against our heroine. Again, this is an interesting touch, but the way Duffield holds back so many details until the climax makes his film a frustrating watch, as the backstory occasionally interrupts what is otherwise a very well made survival thriller before ultimately derailing it completely.

The survival thriller element sees Brynn woken in the middle of the night by some noise in her kitchen. Expecting to find some sort of vermin, or perhaps a burglar, Brynn is shocked to see an alien stumbling around her home. For the next hour or so No One Will Save You is a relentlessly paced sci-fi thriller with some beautifully constructed set-pieces. Like many viewers of my generation, when I watched ET as a kid I found its opening scenes terrifying. At that point I had no idea ET was a cuddly visitor from space who just wants to phone home; I presumed the little shit had evil intentions. I'm guessing Duffield had a similar experience, as Brynn's initial encounter with the extra terrestrials here draws heavily on ET and Spielberg's other alien visitation classic Close Encounters, with the lights of Brynn's home flashing on and off along with her record player, and great big beams of Spielbergian light blasting through the windows as flying saucers hover outside.

No One Will Save You review

There are Body Snatchers elements as Brynn reluctantly heads to town for help and realises that most of the townsfolk have become possessed by cockroach-like creatures embedded in their throats.

Duffield takes various elements of classic sci-fi and mashes them together into something that feels fresh and more intense than your average alien invasion movie. Much of this is down to the film's almost complete lack of dialogue. Commendably, Duffield doesn't cheat by having Brynn speak to herself, or to a pet that's all too willing to listen to exposition, ala I am Legend.

What No One Will Save You does have in common with I am Legend (in this case Richard Matheson's novel rather than the Will Smith vehicle), is the ambiguous suggestion that Brynn may not actually be the heroine we think she is. It's never made explicitly clear that the aliens have bad intentions towards her, and there's enough room to make us wonder if she's actually Tom, rather than Jerry, in this scenario.

No One Will Save You review

Duffield makes great use of editing, camera movement, blocking and framing to pull off some nerve-wracking set-pieces. Dever is no slouch either, delivering an impressive non-verbal performance that forces her to use her eyes to tell much of the story. The sound design plays a major role too, adding some weight to CG effects that might have been more noticeably shoddy without such effective use of sound.

What a shame then that the film sends a probe up its own ass in the final half hour. Like a bad Shyamalan movie, No One Will Save You suddenly decides it's no longer content with simply being a damn good alien invasion thriller and gets lost in unravelling Brynn's trauma. It's akin to the psychedelic nonsense that derails the otherwise effective similarly themed 1977 sci-fi movie Foes, and it ends with a punchline that might have been effective for a Twilight Zone episode but in this case only serves to cheapen the movie we've just watched and mostly enjoyed.

No One Will Save You
 is on Disney+ UK/ROI from September 22nd.

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