Above: Kaitlyn Dever stars in the Hulu streaming feature "No One Will Save You." (Photo/Hulu)
Movie review: "No One Will Save You," written and directed by Brian Duffield, starring Kaitlyn Dever. Streaming on Hulu.
UFOs or UAPs or whatever they’re being referred to these days, continue to fascinate us. Turn on any cable channel, whether it be the sadly misnamed History Channel – or, even more mind-bending, the Travel Channel – and you’re bound to find some show opining about the likelihood of aliens from other worlds having visited Earth.
But the reports have gone mainstream, too. With nothing better to do, except maybe to find a way to avoid a government shutdown, in July members of House Oversight Committee's national security subcommittee heard testimony from a former Air Force intelligence officer and two former Navy fighter pilots. The three told tales of government coverups and sightings of, they claimed, strange and unexplained flying craft.
Never mind that the Pentagon denies such reports – of course it would do that, right? – or that for every report of a UAP (which stands, by the way, for Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena) there’s a logical scientific explanation.
Wayward balloons, for example, or weird weather events.
But whether you’re a UAP believer or not, what’s clear is that such attitudes provide filmmakers with plenty of material to work with. And why not, what with an audience ready to lap up whatever they choose to dish out?
The latest example: a movie that last week was the No. 1 requested streaming choice on Hulu. Titled “No One Will Save You,” written and directed by Brian Duffield, the movie stars Kaitlyn Dever as a young woman living what at first seems to be a normal existence in a nameless rural town (the project, by the way, was shot outside New Orleans).
Yet almost immediately, we sense that something is amiss. Brynn (Dever’s character) lives alone in a house that feels far more like a movie set than the residence of a real-life 20-something in 2023. Furthermore, upon rising, Brynn has to stand in front of a mirror and force herself to practice smiling – something that clearly she can’t easily do.
Then there are the neighbors, all of whom decline to return her friendly waves of hello. And if that isn’t strange enough, Brynn walks – rather, she slinks – around town as if she wants to avoid any contact whatsoever while attempting to mail carefully prepared packages.
Finally, and this is the crux of Duffield’s film, there are the killer aliens who invade Brynn’s house – and, ultimately, her dreams.
Much of “No One Will Save You” involves Brynn evading, fighting and – on occasion – killing said aliens (all of whom look like far scarier, and in some cases far larger, versions of Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial”). In the process, much – though not all – of Brynn’s backstory is revealed. Or at least hinted at. Enough, anyway, to provide the gist of what’s going on.
And throughout, Dever – whose previous credits include the limited Netflix crime series “Unbelievable” and the feature film “Booksmart,” both released in 2019 – is required to act without saying more than perhaps a half dozen words. In both her previous films, but especially “Booksmart,” Dever proved capable of handling dialogue that was both dramatic and humorous. Here, she is limited to expressions of shock, fear, frustration and desperation, among others. But she does so believably.
Duffield, an experienced screenwriter – has only one previous directing credit – 2020’s “Spontaneous,” and it is equally farfetched, being based on Aaron Starmer’s novel about teens suddenly, spontaneously, exploding. “No One Will Save You,” though, shows that he has some skill as a director, especially when Dever is being pursued by strange-shaped creatures through the darkness.
Strangely enough, it is the film’s screenplay that proves problematic. Most of Duffield’s screenplays – which include the 2015 neo-Western “Jane Got a Gun” and 2020’s “Love and Monsters” – boast some sense of strangeness. But “No One Will Save You” doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be: a study of an emotionally troubled girl or a minor-league alien invasion?
Imagine, then, how surprising it is to discover that what Duffield settles for is “War of the Worlds” meets “The Stepford Wives.”