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No One Will Save You (2023) Review

Home invasion films are no multiplex ticket site unseen for me. As with any subgenre – assuming home invasion movies can be called one – some I think are good (The Purge, Don’t Breathe, Them), some are boring (When A Stranger Calls (2006), You’re Next), and some are… something else (Mother!). But when the invasion involves aliens, my interest gets a bit more peaked. While Night Shyamalan’s Signs didn’t really do it for me, I actually liked Skyline (2010; yeah, knock me) and Dark Skies (and again if you will). So, with the perimeters of my taste (or lack thereof) laid out, enter No One Will Save You, a home invasion film that involves, you guessed it, aliens.

Enter also Kaitlyn Dever (Them That Follow, Detroit) who plays Brynn, a young woman who lives a life of isolation in her mansion in the woods, not far from a small American town. She seems to eke out a living for herself by making and trading models and miniatures, and while the film is set in the present day, her entire connection to the outside world includes a car, a bike, and a good-old dial-phone on the wall.

That outside world has ostracized her for, as it turns out, holding her liable for the death of her childhood friend. A situation she accepts and resigns to, driven by feelings of guilt that she tries to mitigate by writing greeting cards to her dead friend, and by dancing to Ruby Murray’s classic song Knock On Any Door.

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Soon after the discovery of a small circle of dead grass in her lawn, a break-in ruckus awakens her at night, and it doesn’t take long for her to figure out and face the unearthly origins of her trespassers. And from here on out, No One Will Save You pretty much plays out like a cat-and-mouse game between the aliens and herself, the scope of which she will eventually discover to have reached beyond her residential confines.

Written, directed and co-produced by Brian Duffield (Spontaneous), he had his work cut out for him by making a movie that is essentially a wordless solo performance by Dever in its entirety. After we’re made acquainted to Brynn’s daily routines, he lets her run, hide, fight and be thrown around by the telekinetically enabled aliens once they’re introduced. No One Will Save You is entirely dialogue-free, which is an interesting challenge as it restricts Duffield to tell his story strictly visually, without any oral exposition whatsoever. And while not every detail gets fully resolved, the film doesn’t really even need it. Duffield does an admirable job here in terms of visual storytelling.

That storytelling format Duffield elected to employ hinges on Dever’s acting performance for the film to fully work. And in the first 10 minutes of the film, as we are introduced to Brynn, Duffield lets her sigh a lot – a LOT – to convey expression of impression, to the point where I actually started to cringe.

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I’m not sure if it’s Duffield directing Dever to purposely do this, or Dever herself for not having anything else available in her acting arsenal, but it culminated in a character – the only one in the movie, really, save for some brief appearances of unnamed extras here and there – in whose plight I hardly found myself invested, let alone rooting for. In other words, it felt like Dever was acting the character, rather than inhabiting it, which I think is a prerequisite to pull off a solo performance like this.

To Dever’s credit, she does redeem herself a bit when her performance shifts from the dramatic to the physical once the aliens enter into the fray. But not enough to undo my feelings of indifference towards Brynn. One wonders if, with all the effort it must have taken him to pull off a film like this and the essence of his central lead’s performance, Duffield wasn’t able to cast a Mia Goth-caliber type of actress. And it’s a shame, really, because he’s hitting it out of the park in No One Will Save You with so many other things.

Helped by an effective sound design, the alien invasion scenes, while not exactly original, are impressive enough with their blue telekinetic floodlights and hovering, flying saucer-type spaceships. Same for the aliens themselves, who’re equally effective as something that looks like a blend of Gollum and the aliens in Signs: pale skinny big-eyed humanoids with long tentacled limbs and making cackling sounds.

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The aliens are practical here, CG-based there, the quality of the latter being often on the dubious side but not to the point of ever getting disturbingly bad. The proceedings and alien mayhem in No One Will Save You are more thrilling than violent (let alone scary or gory), and the film safely stays within the constraints of its family-friendly rating. But this doesn’t keep it from mostly working effectively on its intended level.

Awarding a critical conclusion to this film is a challenging proposition. I really wanted to like it. I applaud Duffield for the stringency he put upon himself in keeping his story strictly visual, and praise his effort for even mostly pulling it off. But I can’t really get past the fact that No One Will Save Me didn’t succeed in being immersive, which for me is quite the cardinal issue here. Especially with a film like this: a story that’s totally dialogue-free and centred around the ordeal of one single character. But who knows, viewers with different demands and preferences may be more appreciative. See my earlier perimeters for this, and translate them to your own.

No One Will Save You is currently streaming on Hulu.

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