Brian Duffield has left his mark as a screenwriter in recent years. From The Babysitter to Skull Island, not forgetting Love and Monsters or Underwater, the also producer is still looking for his breakthrough as a director since his directorial debut, Spontaneous, didn’t achieve the necessary success to cement his place in Hollywood. Enter No One Will Save You, a sci-fi flick about an alien invasion starring one of the most exciting young stars of the last decade, Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart).
A simple, direct premise that gradually generated higher levels of anticipation before the day of release on streaming. Fortunately, expectations were met and even surpassed in several aspects, as No One Will Save You easily became one of the biggest surprises of the year! In fact, it’s a massive shame that a movie so well constructed, told, and shot cannot be distributed in theaters around the world, as it deserves to be seen on the big screen, especially because the technical attributes themselves justify it.
No One Will Save You Critique
I defend imagination and creativity as characteristics that don’t need to be inherently linked to something never seen before in cinema. There’s a considerable difference between laziness, or lack of identity, and simplicity. Filmmakers who use and abuse generic formulas without any care for storytelling or character building, presenting a mere copy of hundreds of other virtually identical films, end up, justifiably, falling into oblivion. No One Will Save You doesn’t reinvent the wheel – forgive the also formulaic expression – but Duffield brings back something that had been lost for quite a long time…
I can’t remember the last time an alien invasion was *just* that: extraterrestrial beings invading planet Earth and humans trying to survive. It’s true that No One Will Save You has a specific “high-concept” narrative layer connected to the protagonist’s past and the feelings that haunt her, but Duffield’s focus is entirely on highlighting the excellent technical components, trusting Dever to guide the story alone, and structure a film without many pauses to breathe between the countless extremely tense, beautifully executed suspenseful sequences.
Let’s start with the technical aspects. The standout must be the sound design. Not to be confused with Joseph Trapanese’s (Spiderhead) score – equally superb – but the sound that surrounds No One Will Save You and which transforms home viewing into a truly immersive experience – assuming that the viewer makes an effort, if possible, to watch the movie on a TV, and not on an insignificant laptop in broad daylight without even using headphones. From details such as the steps of aliens inside the house to the hovering and lights of UFOs, not excluding their way of communicating, this technical characteristic alone makes it worthy of a cinema experience.
The creature design may disappoint some viewers expecting something unique and special, but personally, I love the fact that No One Will Save You transfers the simplicity of its premise to the visual effects. Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to change the stereotypical appearance of aliens – green, skinny, big-headed beings with oversized eyes – and their “flying saucers”. With a mix of motion-capture and CGI, Duffield demonstrates that sometimes less really is more. In addition to this, it’s also a perfect example of interdepartmental teamwork, with Aaron Morton’s (The Rings of Power) cinematography adapting to the low budget, protecting the VFX team without losing quality in the stunts and general camera work.
No One Will Save You also stands out for its fully visual storytelling. Brynn (Dever) lives alone and away from any type of social interaction due to certain tragic events that, obviously, I won’t address. It’s here that Duffield reveals overwhelming levels of courage and confidence, as well as remarkable intelligence in developing his story without any dialogue – unless I’m mistaken, Dever only has two lines. Whether through messages in a notebook, framed photographs, or Dever’s facial expressions, the mere visual focus with the camera is enough to not only establish the necessary atmosphere and introduce the protagonist, but also to delve into quite complex themes such as grief, guilt, and forgiveness.
In fact, strange as it may seem, No One Will Save You actually insists too much on visual information, almost as if Duffield wasn’t completely sure if the audience would understand the dozens of clues and clear indications left throughout the film. Besides this excess, only the very last scene raises some issues. The best way to explain it without spoilers would be to say that it really feels like a last-minute sequence added by order of the studio. It doesn’t ruin the movie at all, but it creates an unnecessary, even somewhat thematically contradictory situation.
Going back since the praises aren’t over yet. The sequences with aliens chasing Brynn involve several commendable practical stunts, and the tension remains constant until the end. No One Will Save You is reminiscent of admittedly more memorable and more original works such as 10 Cloverfield Lane, Prey, and A Quiet Place, but manages to distinguish itself through all the details mentioned in this article, and, naturally, Dever’s phenomenal performance.
The actress continues to grow, already reaching the level of elevating any film in which she participates. Still, leading a movie with virtually no lines or secondary characters… if anything, it’s not for everyone. A mesmerizing display with facial expressions that range from fascinating subtlety to bursts of emotion. The physical component is equally crucial to the success of the movie, and Dever impresses with her participation in most of the stunts. The number of superb performances in her short career is genuinely shocking. It won’t take long for her to win multiple Oscars…
No One Will Save You counts on Kaitlyn Dever’s powerfully expressive, virtually speechless performance to carry a classic sci-fi premise of alien invasion filled with truly tense moments perfectly executed by Brian Duffield. The brilliantly impactful sound design accompanies the narrative rich in themes such as guilt, grief, and forgiveness, developed exclusively through clever visual details. The last scene leaves an unnecessary bitter aftertaste, but far from affecting the enjoyment of one of this year’s most pleasant surprises.