Floorboards creak, records scratch and creatures shriek in Kaitlyn Dever’s newest film, yet she hardly utters a word.
Mashing together a traditional home invasion plotline with some uninvited alien visitors, Brian Duffield’s No One Will Save You – now streaming on Hulu – draws inspiration from classic science-fiction B-movies, building on the shoulders of 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and 1953’s The War of the Worlds.
Dever plays Brynn, a tight-lipped loner exiled by others in her small town. Haunted by the mysterious loss of an old friend, she prefers to stay home sewing dresses and sipping wine, away from the judgmental eyes of the world that abandoned her.
However, her isolated paradise begins to crumble when she wakes to the sounds of footsteps in her home, which turns out to be an extraterrestrial guest making itself at home that did not come in peace. After a suspenseful encounter of the third kind, Brynn is launched headfirst into an alien invasion that’s already begun.
The film has no more than two proper lines of dialogue, yet the ultra-expressive Dever commands the horror-thriller with a confident physicality. She portrays the introverted Brynn with sympathetic kindness, luring the audience into an effective state for the film’s dramatic conclusive twists.
The screenplay places the bulk of the film on her shoulders, and she carries it with ease, selling every scream, scare and slam.
No One Will Save You marks Duffield’s sophomore directorial outing after an almost decade-long career in screenwriting, which focused on similarly genre-heavy work. He clearly feels at home in the director’s chair, nimbly balancing tense and inventive action set pieces with emotionally fulfilling dramatic sequences.
However, Duffield’s directing can’t be given sole credit for the film’s intensity. Many of the film’s most nail-biting moments owe themselves to Daniel Carrasco’s creature design. Carrasco’s aliens twist the classic grey-skinned, big-eyed beings into a collection of monstrous, frightening antagonists.
The creatures feel surprisingly at home in No One Will Save You’s lived-in world. Ramsey Avery, the film’s production designer, crafted an environment that felt real and tangible. In a film without dialogue, effective production design becomes essential to fill gaps left by a lighter screenplay.
The script is notably light on world-building, injecting just enough story and character within its introduction to give the audience something to root for. However, as the film moves into its third act, that lack of foundation begins to eat away at the stakes needed for the film’s unexpected finale.
The script’s thinness is especially prominent during the climax of the film’s emotional themes when the ghosts of Brynn’s past intersect with the nightmares of her present. The sequence, while moderately effective, is hindered by the script’s reluctance to explore its characters’ histories before that point.
I found myself caring for the film’s resolution solely because of the relationship Dever had built with the audience, not because of any emotional connection Duffield had developed with the character. He explores intriguing themes, but not in any new or revealing way.
Had the film spent a couple more pages on grounding its emotional core, the conclusion would’ve had a deeper impact. No One Will Save You is at its best when it bridges Brynn’s clouded history to its terrifying visuals. Frustratingly, Duffield saves those interactions for the film’s final minutes.
It’s there that Duffield flexes his strongest storytelling muscles, creating a commendable, original ending to a familiar story. When Brynn is faced with trauma both new and old in the film’s climax, the story takes an unexpected turn, leaving viewers with an unforgettable and disturbingly uplifting epilogue. Tense action sequences, inventive creature design and Dever’s fearless performance make No One Will Save You a perfectly entertaining film to start horror season, so long as you can overlook its shallow shortcomings.