America has a history of obsession with alien invasions. The myriad fantasies revolving around the aliens’ appearance, their motive for arriving on earth, and even their mode of sexual reproduction all preoccupy people’s minds. As time has passed, this particular preoccupation has subsided, but not entirely. The current preoccupation is with mental health. Healthy living is now a mysterious topic. What exactly is it, and how does one change themselves in order to live a healthy life? Everyone seems to be battling anxiety or trying to resolve past traumas. Where do aliens fit in all of this? No One Will Save You, the new film by writer-director Brian Duffield might just have the answer. It stars Kaitlyn Dever as the protagonist, Brynn Adams, who suffers from social anxiety. She gets the shock of a lifetime when she finds an alien has invaded her secluded home.
Brynn Adams seems to be an old-school girl. Living in her giant house alone, she feels at peace, keeping herself busy writing letters to a certain ‘Maude Collins’. There is no word uttered, as she doesn’t have anybody to speak to. For some reason, the whole town treats her like a stranger, even though she is desperate for some human contact. In setting up her character, we see a montage of her leaving her house and going into town, and then to a cemetery, where we find that she is an orphan. She sits beside her mother’s grave and leaves, as she isn’t able to find peace and quiet there as well. These moments that introduce us to the character have quite a few issues, but firstly, the good points: Kaitlyn Dever has proven herself to be quite the director’s actor, aligning herself with the director’s vision in movies and series such as Booksmart and Unbelievable. The isolation her character Brynn feels from the rest of the town is neatly portrayed. Now, the bad part stems from the dialogue. Brian Duffield’s film has almost none. It is indeed a challenge to make a feature film with almost no dialogue, but the problem here is that all the sighs and the grunts and Dever’s constant mouth breathing are distracting to such a degree that even the aliens fail to attract attention.
No One Will Save You is really not trying to outstretch itself; hence, the small town milieu works in its favor. It seems essential. The house Brynn lives in is nicely designed, giving it the appearance of a house from the 1950s. I say this because there is a rotary-dial telephone in the house, while the main part of the town has kept up with time’s progression and technological developments. The feeling associated with that era works best with horror flicks and is a nod to the alien obsession of the 1950s. Dever is so sincere that even though she doesn’t have any words for almost the entire film, she is trying to make the scenes work with the dread in her eyes and her whimpers and sighs. She doesn’t look like she will fit the ‘ostracized lady living in her mansion’ part. She seems young but tries to give the appearance of being physically older with her gait, with her arms flared out a bit. The toiling in this movie that her character does is what might give the film its rewatchability.
There is a blanket sparseness about No One Will Save You that can’t be mistaken for an economical decision. Following one single character without dialogue seems to be an uphill task and starts to feel like the butter is being spread too thin. It hopes it makes up for this lack of density in the screenplay with the alien invasion, and to a certain degree, it does. The aliens are designed as per the collective’s consciousness of what they look like. The design is not novel, except perhaps the arachnid angle. The aliens can definitely be read as Brynn’s social anxiety realized externally. As a metaphor it works fine while giving us some thrilling moments that we naturally expect with alien invasions. The metaphor extends itself with the fact that Brynn has to overcome the aliens to clear her own mind. Then again, the direction lacks the quality of having woven Brynn’s past into the narrative in a seamless manner. The latter part of the movie seemed to be interested in vivid colors, and the effect that worked so well in movies like Mandy, fails to have that same intensity here.
Director Brian Duffield wants us to view the film through Brynn’s eyes. But he is also interested in the alien’s point of view, so we are neither fully immersed in Brynn’s circumstances nor in the aliens’. The ‘first contact’ fight sequence has to be the highlight of the film, as it was complex to shoot but was paced to perfection. But what did No One Will Save You really want to say? Did it really have a theme or just the hope that figuring out the aliens’ modus operandi would just automatically give the illusion of a universal emotion? Aliens are exciting, even if the theme is not. There is an entertainment quotient to such concepts that mitigates the risk involved with not having a consistent and strong foundation for the story. The mystery revolving around Brynn’s banishment doesn’t really make the story open up in a relieved manner. There are more questions than answers here, and they don’t seem deliberate enough by the makers to be deemed thought-provoking. The big revelation about Maude Collins is a perfect example of this sort of thing.
The repetitive screams by Dever, possibly a result of bad sound editing, also take away from the immersive experience. No One Will Save You makes us ponder our own inability to receive closure over events. Will it really take an alien invasion for us to be courageous enough to do that? I hope the aliens are as defeatable as they are in this movie. Although it must be said that these ones are an improvement on the ones seen in Shyamalan’s Signs. Brynn Adams is a great performer in the making, as she gave it her all in this one as well. But even for her, giving a different yet exciting expression of absolute dread at every turn of the movie proved too much of a challenge. No One Will Save You is a realization of sorts that no one will indeed save us except our own selves. Yet, paradoxically, it may be the aliens who help us in our endeavors. Watch No One Will Save You as this doesn’t have an abysmal ‘it was all a dream’ ending, although the greatest fright I received in this movie was given when the film, for a brief moment, didn’t suggest otherwise.