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Writer/Director Brian Duffield (Spontaneous, Love and Monsters) continues his streak of housing affecting metaphors within thrilling genre features with his latest, No One Will Save You. In this instance, a woman alienated from her community finds herself contending with highly intelligent, hostile aliens from another planet. In Duffield’s capable hands, a journey through self-forgiveness gets transformed into a propulsive, nerve-fraying sci-fi twist on home invasion horror.
Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) lives alone on the outskirts of town, finding solace from her loneliness through crafts, penning letters, and picking up new hobbies. It’s apparent that Brynn’s seemingly idyllic life masks a deeper, unaddressed pain, one that’s left her ostracized and isolated. The answers to why become the overarching mystery, and Duffield spares not a second in this lean thriller. Almost as soon as we meet Brynn, she’s thrust into an abject nightmare when she wakes in the middle of the night to discover her home has been invaded by unfriendly extraterrestrials. It sparks a nonstop battle to evade Brynn’s attackers- emphasis on nonstop.
There’s not an ounce of fat in this nearly 90-minute genre actioner. Duffield spends roughly eight minutes introducing Brynn and her place within this world before plummeting into a series of escalating chases, encounters, and terrifying reveals about the invaders. It’s not just the intense action that keeps the adrenaline pumping at a constant high, but the score by Joe Trapanese and unsettling sound design by Will Files and Chris Terhune (Prey). The stellar, earworm sound in No One Will Save You is a critical component here, as Brynn’s nerve-fraying night of terror unfolds almost entirely without human dialogue. Thanks to the propulsive action sequences and the sound design that effectively pulls you into this world, the lack of dialogue winds up adding dramatic heft to the central theme. When words do get spoken on screen, it hits all the harder.
Dever makes for a winsome heroine, deftly navigating the emotional intricacies of Brynn’s arc while maneuvering around insane obstacles and physical confrontations with her foe. Dever’s Brynn makes for a perfect marriage of action-hero physicality with profound internal pain. As the aliens reveal a bit more about their hierarchy and escalate their attacks, Brynn is forced to confront her past in poignant, elegant ways amidst the chaos. That this film rests almost entirely on Dever’s shoulders makes it all the more impressive. How Brynn’s story dovetails with the alien invasion at large is not only moving but demonstrative of Duffield’s talent for seamlessly grafting emotionally potent character arcs and social metaphors onto innovative genre vehicles. The final bow comes as more of a quiet exhale compared to the rest of the film’s relentless energy, but it does offer thematic catharsis.
The physical manifestation of Brynn’s alienation offers plenty of surprises and narrative turns, culminating in a frenetic, impressively crafted sci-fi actioner that’ll leave you on edge often. Duffield keeps his fingers on the pulse of the current zeitgeist, bringing the quintessential grey alien back into the cinematic limelight to a nerve-fraying degree. But the filmmaker also gives his aliens a unique spin with an elaborate hierarchy that brings plenty of surprises. Cinematographer Aaron Morton (Spontaneous, 2013’s Evil Dead) captures the intense horror action with stunning clarity, but the intricate sound and Dever’s committed portrayal steal the show.
Turn the lights down low and the volume on max: No One Will Save You brings high-octane thrills and chills with purpose, making for a spooky season must-watch.
No One Will Save You begins streaming exclusive on Hulu on September 22.