Share and Follow
Got trauma? A global alien invasion is all it takes for emotionally scarred Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) to sort through her issues in “No One Will Save You,” an extra-terrestrial creature feature cut from the same cloth as M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs,” where the jump scares are secondary to an earnest (but far less effective) portrait of coping with guilt and grief.
Building on the novelty value of 2020 debut “Spontaneous” (in which a bunch of teenagers inexplicably start to pop like pimples), director Brian Duffield sets multiple creative challenges for himself and mostly succeeds — well enough to attract eyeballs to this buzz-worthy Hulu release, at least. Amusingly enough, one of the things liable to get people talking is Duffield’s decision to construct the film with hardly any dialogue.
Brynn’s a loner, living in a house that looks like it was decorated by a 12-year-old girl. When her phone rings, she picks up and immediately hangs up without answering. And when she goes to town, Brynn wears a baseball cap and sunglasses, desperately trying to make herself invisible. What’s this young woman’s deal? The film withholds that information until the penultimate scene, although one of its shortcomings is that without speech, whatever Duffield’s trying to say proves confusing to interpret. As a horror movie, however, it’s fun to watch an intelligent character make reasonably smart decisions when her home is broken into.
Audiences who stumble in blind should appreciate when, 15 minutes into the film, the shadowy figure that’s forced its way into Brynn’s quaint, two-story country abode steps into focus, and they realize those feet aren’t human. This pale-skinned home invader has long finger-like digits instead of toes, stalking through Brynn’s bedroom like a praying mantis.
A short time later, Duffield reveals the creature in full. It’s consistent with the “gray alien” phenotype most common in popular culture: big, bobble-headed guys with enormous black eyes, tiny mouths and roughly human proportions. These critters come in different shapes and sizes, with limbs of variable lengths (there’s a short, squatty one that can gnaw through wooden doors and a far taller variation that climbs walls and moves like a daddy longlegs spider). They all possess some form of telekinetic power, which allows them to move furniture and swing doors open at will.
The film is most successful when it finds Brynn in survival mode. The fact she doesn’t talk during these stretches recalls “A Quiet Place” — although it’s worth pointing out that she doesn’t have anyone to talk to, and she makes an awful lot of noise (between heavy breathing and bumping into furniture around her house) when trying to hide from the aliens. Otherwise, she’s pretty clever, turning household objects into makeshift weapons, and even going so far as to jam the belltower from one of her birdhouses into an unwelcome intruder’s noggin. And thus she discovers that they’re not so difficult to kill (still, it’s a huge improvement over the water allergy of “Signs”).
The title refers first to the fact that Brynn is persona non grata in town. Again, for reasons that aren’t immediately clear, the local police chief (Dane Rhodes) and his wife (Geraldine Singer) refuse to help Brynn when she shows up at the station, post break-in. But it’s also an indication that sheer self-reliance is the only thing keeping Brynn alive during this time. Other neighbors aren’t so lucky. Circle-shaped burns in their lawns, viewed from above via drone footage, suggest the aliens have been busy. Would-be allies act possessed — and positively homicidal — when Brynn crosses their path. Still, if these characters talked, it would be a lot easier to make sense of whatever’s going through Brynn’s head.
After playing a hyper-articulate motormouth in “Booksmart,” Dever does a fine job of communicating the moment-to-moment logic of each sequence without dialogue, though it’s far from clear what the aliens want or how any of this relates to the terrible thing that happened to her childhood friend Maude (Evangeline Rose) way back when. The climactic scene, in which Brynn is forced to swallow a wriggling parasite, ought to be the scariest moment in the movie, closely followed by the scene where a tractor beam lifts Brynn aboard a flying saucer. By this point, it feels as if the space invaders have come all this way just to teach Brynn a lesson. Trouble is, they speak in the foghorn blurts of Hans Zimmer’s “Inception” score, which no one will save you from misinterpreting.