Genre films come in all shapes and sizes, and while most are aiming for nothing more than entertainment, some go the extra mile and deliver stories with affecting emotions and deeper meanings. Writer Brian Duffield (The Babysitter, 2017; Underwater, 2020) is no stranger to the former, but he’s quietly been making a name for himself on the latter with films like Spontaneous (2020) and Love and Monsters (2020). His latest feature as writer and director continues that trend as a home invasion thriller with a sci-fi bent finds real heart and maybe a few tears before it’s over. No One Will Save You captures one woman’s tight, thrilling fight for survival with energy, wit, and a near complete lack of dialogue. (Well, human dialogue anyway.)
Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) lives alone in a big house on the outskirts of town, and while she keeps herself busy it’s clear her solitude isn’t entirely of her choosing. As she settles in one night, though, she discovers she’s not quite as alone as she’s become used to — an alien being wants in and wants her, and it’s not alone either. Realizing she can’t rely on anyone else for help, Brynn sets out to defend and defeat whatever these gray bastards decide to throw at her.
No One Will Save You is a genre treat built as much on the bones of past classics as it is the creative genius of its writer/director. Duffield approaches the gray alien subgenre with an energetic and occasionally mean take as these creatures are less interested in making music and more interested in spitting frog-sized creatures down your throat to take control of your every fiber. It makes for a suspenseful, thrilling ride, and while the ending doesn’t quite work the further you get from it (it’s been several days, and I’m still ruminating on it), there’s no denying that the movie cooks for the bulk of its ninety-three minutes.
The jumping off point for the film seems inspired, at least in part, by an episode of The Twilight Zone called “The Invaders,” which sees a woman fending off a home invasion by a chihuahua-sized spaceship and its tiny alien invaders. Like that episode, No One Will Save You unfolds with almost no dialogue — impressive enough for a twenty-two minute television episode, but a true feat for a feature length movie — and it leaves the film resting heavily on Dever’s shoulders.
Unsurprisingly for anyone who’s seen her work in everything from the underseen Them That Follow (2019) to the heart-wrenching miniseries Unbelievable (2019), Dever carries the film beautifully. We’re cheering her as she fights back, sets traps, and runs for her life, and we’re tearing up as her past sins are revealed. It’s a stellar performance, as emotionally rich as it is gung-ho, and she delivers it all through expression and exertion only. She’s been shunned by the community for some time, and with no one to talk to she’s become accustomed to the silence. There’s a sadness to it alongside the thrill of its execution, and that lack of dialogue actually adds to the character’s depth rather than subtract.
While Dever is the heart and soul of No One Will Save You, Duffield packs its slim running time with enough genre thrills for three movies. The Body Snatchers angle adds some back half terror, but getting there is a ride in its own right as aliens of varying sizes take a stab at invading Brynn’s home and turning their prey. They’re brought to life through a mix of CG and practical effects, and while their general visage is the “traditional” alien representation, Duffield gives them a visual tic that creates an off-kilter feel. They almost stutter in their movement, like stop-motion puppets breaking free of their animators, and the result is terrifically off-putting.
As mentioned at the top, Duffield has quickly become known for genre films with heart, and No One Will Save You doesn’t change that. The difference here comes down to the film’s final moments. Third act reveals combined with Dever’s performance will most likely squeeze some tears from viewers coming down from eighty minutes of fun thrills, and it serves to make Brynn’s situation — a battle she’s forced to fight alone — all the more heartbreaking and inspiring. The film’s final choice, though, fumbles the emotional deal as themes feel jumbled between redemption and resolve.
Still, while No One Will Save You makes a misstep with its ending it’s not a fatal one. The film’s strengths outweigh the iffiness of its conclusion, and we’re left feeling the high of a home invasion/alien invasion mashup we never knew we wanted. The atmosphere is aided even further by a propulsive and addictive score by Joseph Trapanese, and the adrenaline rush of a beautifully crafted survival tale leaves a smile on your face. It would have been great to catch this on the big screen (thanks for nothing 20th Century Disney!), but do yourself a favor and catch it on Hulu instead. Just be sure to crank it up loud.