Tuesday 3 October 2023

No One Will Save You

It's the spooky season and No One Will Save You is a straight-to-streaming alien abduction thriller for Halloween on Hulu and Star on Disney+.

October marks the anniversary of a life-changing childhood trauma. The theme of abduction has haunted me since waking from a coma, paralysed, in a children's hospital. For years, I suffered from night terrors and still have troubled dreams. However, the sci-fi genre has always afforded a safe space to explore life's shades of grey.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, is Home Alone against The Invaders.

Guest post by Nick Smith

The alien invasion movie No One Will Save You, which landed on Hulu and Star on Disney+ just in time for the dark skies of autumn, has received deliciously mixed reviews. I say delicious because a film that divides an audience has far more flavour than a homogenised crowd-pleaser.

Online reactions have ranged from ‘thrilling’ to ‘increasingly entertaining’ to ‘a derivative piece of rubbish where the title must be referring to the film itself’ – i.e., nothing can save it.

So why the mixed responses?

There are certainly lots of familiar elements in the film to dissuade the jaded or fickle aficionados. We’ve seen alien incursions of this ilk before, with bright eerie lights (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), a hunt for a hiding human (War of the Worlds) and a domestic siege (Signs). But there are enough ideas here to keep us guessing as the main character, Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever), battles Bug-Eyed Monsters.

The main twist is the film’s lack of dialogue. Dever only has a couple of lines and they’re all the more powerful as a result. It’s fun to watch a story that makes the most of cinema as a visual medium. Brynn is depicted as ditzy, lonely, and uncomfortable leaving her house because she is shunned by her neighbours. When home is your haven, a break-in is all the more violating and we really feel Brynn’s distress as her perfectly decorated doll’s house of a world is wrecked by those darned aliens.

If anything the house is too perfect, as if a movie set designer has created it; this, along with Brynn’s awkwardness and the quaint slices of town life we see, gives No One Will Save You a Tim Burtonesque quality. The ak-ak aliens from Burton’s Mars Attacks! wouldn’t be out of place here, and neither would the unseen infiltrators from Invasion of the Body Snatchers since Brynn’s neighbours start acting very strangely…

Another element that sets No One Will Save You apart from other sci-fi fare and that’s Brynn herself, a heroine who uses her wits more than weapons, and harbours feelings and memories that provide a solution to the alien attack.

Anima trumps guns ‘n’ ammo, which is refreshing for a product of a film industry that usually resorts to marketable bangs and flashes.

The most effective scenes build suspense and a sense of mortal danger, without showing us too much of the menacing intruders. When writer/director Brian Duffield discards the Ridley Scott (Alien) playbook and shows us the aliens full-on, they look digitally drawn and not part of Brynn’s carefully crafted physical world. That’s a distracting shame, especially considering the $22 million budget.

Fortunately, effects aren’t the be-all and end-all of No One Will Save You.

Dever is charming and believable; all the odd ducks in the audience will relate to her idiosyncrasy in the face of conformity; and Duffield’s script has plenty of themes and motifs relevant to today’s society, adding weight to his little capture-and-escape thriller.

Beyond the no-dialogue gimmick and the paint-by-numbers aliens. This movie strikes a chord by reminding us that the only thing that can really save us is to accept our mistakes and be ourselves.

Have you seen No One Will Save You? Let me know in the comments below.

Nick Smith's new audiobook, Undead on Arrival, is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

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