No One Will Save You | Brian Duffield’s Close Encounters horror shouldn’t be missed

no one will save you
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Out now on Hulu (or Disney+ in the UK), writer-director Brian Duffield’s No One Will Save You is a must-see sci-fi horror.

NB: We’ve tried to keep the following as spoiler-free if you can. If you’re sensitive to such things, though, we’d highly recommend you go and watch No One Will Save You, then come back and let us know what you thought afterwards.

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Maybe it’s the cyclical nature of fashions and trends. Perhaps it’s all the news stories about the Pentagon releasing footage of unidentified flying objects. Whatever the reason, between last year’s Nope and this year’s No One Will Save You, it feels as though ufology is having a bit of a moment in movies of late.

Where writer-director Jordan Peele’s Nope rightfully got a theatrical release, though, No One Will Save You barely got a showing in US cinemas, and was released on Hulu and Disney+ on 22 September. Even more curiously, we couldn’t find the film on the front page of Disney+ when we logged onto the app last Friday – we had to search, and found No One Will Save You tucked away in the platform’s Stars channel. (This was in the UK, admittedly; its visibility may have varied in other territories.)

It’s a bewildering state of affairs for what we’d argue is one of 2023’s boldest and most arresting genre films. Written and directed by Brian Duffield (Spontaneous), it’s a sci-fi horror flick, but one that doesn’t stick slavishly to generic formulas. Long before its release, there was already talk – including on this site – about the approach Duffield took with his screenplay. Like Steven Spielberg’s Duel before it, No One Will Save You is a suspense film with barely a line of dialogue to be found in its brisk 90-ish-minute duration. That might sound like a gimmick, but Duffield’s deployment of it, in practice, works beautifully.

For one thing, the absence of dialogue provides a perfect showcase for Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) as a physical performer. The film is seen almost entirely from the perspective of Dever’s protagonist – the reclusive, 20-something seamstress, Brynn. Living several miles outside a small town whose inhabitants spurn her for reasons unclear, Brynn lives in the sprawling yet conspicuously outdated wooden house that once belonged to her mother. Alone with her thoughts and her Wes Anderson-like collection of dioramas, Brynn occasionally drives into town to run the odd errand, but spends as much time at home, pottering around the house and, in her own way, dwelling on the past.

That is, until a strange clattering sound outside Brynn’s bedroom window one evening signals the arrival of an unwelcome – and unearthly – visitor. After that, all bets are off.

What follows is a suspenseful and superbly-shot thriller – one that features plenty of familiar images and staples from other science fiction films about alien visitation, but which manages to find original, off-kilter ways of employing them. Watching No One Will Save You, we were variously reminded of the small-town paranoia of William Cameron Menzies’ wonderful Invaders From Mars (1953), the awestruck tone (and home invasion moments) of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and the uneasy weirdness of Harry Bromley Davenport’s cult offering, XTRO (1982).

There are shreds of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and its various remakes and M Night Shyamalan’s Signs (2002). We even got a hint of Night Skies, the planned but never-filmed Close Encounters sequel that would itself have been about aliens visiting a remote farmhouse. (It’s a concept that later appeared in the low-budget Critters (1986).)

Above all, No One Will Save You takes roughly 75 years of UFO-based movies and forges them into something different: a character study of its isolated, guilt-ridden protagonist. Through Brynn’s interactions with the unknown, Duffield gradually reveals both more about the visitors assailing the house and Brynn herself – every scene and seemingly casual detail reveals a new piece of information, to the point where it’s almost worth watching the film again once you’ve reached the end.

To say too much more about the film’s plot and themes would take us into spoiler territory (perhaps they’re worth saving for a separate post…), but it’s fair to say that No One Will Save You has emerged as one of this year’s best genre films. It may not be perfect – the CGI varies from superb to so-so, and we have lingering questions about the visitors’ motivations – but the strength of its acting and filmmaking make it an easy recommendation.

As disappointing as it is to see such a great film trickle out onto a streaming platform without a wider cinema release, No One Will Save You is already picking up a following through word of mouth alone. The script is receiving renewed attention on Reddit (users have focused on one page in particular, if you don’t mind spoilers). Director Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King are among the movie’s high-profile fans. “No One Will Save You,” the latter wrote on Twitter/X. “Brilliant, Daring, involving, scary.”

If No One Will Save You continues to grow an appreciative audience, then who knows – maybe one day it’ll get the big-screen showing it deserves. Until then, it remains a captivating tale of aliens and alienation.

No One Will Save You is available to watch now on Hulu and Disney+.

Read more: Nope | some spoilery thoughts on the power of spectacle

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