I think I love the way Brian Duffield’s brain works. Spontaneous is easily one of my favorite and most re-watched movies of the last few years; Love and Monsters, which he wrote but didn’t direct, is great; and now we can add his latest multi-hyphenated endeavor, No One Will Save You, to this pile as it does not disappoint. At a base level, this is an alien-home-invasion story, but the reality is so much stranger and more complicated than that.
Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) plays Brynn, an anxiety-ridden near-shut-in and small-town pariah. Like she waves at people, and they stare at her like, what the fuck is this bitch doing. That is if they don’t simply spit in her face. Her anxiety makes a lot of sense. One night, an alien breaks into her house, and what plays out watches like home-invasion horror by way of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with just a pinch of things like Independence Day, Fire in the Sky, and more thrown in for good measure.
Duffield, who both writes and directs, delivers an inventive, harrowing, and occasionally heart-breaking affair. He plays with the expectations of both horror and sci-fi, cleverly subverting familiar beats and scenes, and the film continually goes in strange, unexpected directions, much to its benefit. Add to that intricate and elaborate production design, an innovative and unique soundscape, and a tension-cranking score, and you’ve got something special on your hands.
But as fantastic as all the rest is, the absolute star of No One Will Save You is Kaitlyn goddamn Dever. I’ve been a big fan since Justified, but she is bananas good here. She goes through the ringer in every conceivable way, on every level—physically, emotionally—and turns in a stunner of a performance. What makes it even more mind-blowing, there’s no dialogue. We hear a few background murmurs in town, and the first words of a lewd phone call, but that’s it. Brynn literally speaks five words. One three-word sentence, followed by a two-word sentence that’s mostly a repetition of the first. (There’s an argument to be made that she says a sixth word, but it’s essentially a breathy, “okay,” that’s more an exhalation than an actual word.) It’s all terror and strain, screams and cries and visceral, guttural sounds that say more than any words, and Dever knocks it out of the park in every instance.
Do yourself a favor and watch No One Will Save You on Hulu (before they pull it like they’re doing to so many other titles, so they don’t have to pay anyone royalties or residuals). It’s taut and thrilling, weird and fun, and delightful and moving. All of Brian Duffield’s sweet spots, and all anchored by one of the best performances of the year so far. [Grade: A]