Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a messy year for film distribution, as studios struggled to figure out how to properly put out new releases to a hungry audience. Mistakes were made, and great titles slipped through the cracks of public awareness. Spontaneous, the directorial debut of The Babysitter screenwriter Brian Duffield, was one of them. Adapted from the book of the same name by author Aaron Starmer, it’s a comical and devastating blend of young adult drama and explosive horror, with teenagers spontaneously combusting serving as a bold metaphor for America’s school shooting epidemic. It’s a dark comedy made with a strong and confident voice, and it instantly confirms Duffield as an exciting talent.
No One Will Save You
Release Date: September 22, 2023
Directed By: Brian Duffield
Written By: Brian Duffield
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Geraldine Singer, Dane Rhodes and Lauren L. Murray
Rating: PG-13 for violent content and terror
Runtime: 93 minutes
Arriving three years later, No One Will Save You is exceptional further affirmation of that confirmation. It’s high concept sci-fi horror, with old school grey aliens terrorizing a protagonist alone in her house and isolated from her community, and it’s a phenomenal execution of sustained dread with awesome surprises. Simultaneously, it’s a minimalist character study powered by a stunning performance from Kaitlyn Dever, and a fascinating exploration of grief. It’s a wonder, and the latest big win for original genre movies.
Dever plays Brynn Adams, a young woman who lives a quiet, solitary life… but not entirely by choice. An incident from her past has rendered her a social pariah of sorts in her home town, and the cold stares she receives from people she casually waves at intensifies her deep and unshakable guilt. She keeps to her hobbies, like dancing, model village building, and dressmaking, but also frequently writes letters to her deceased best friend.
Interrupting Brynn’s placid existence one random night is a visit from an extraterrestrial invader. Being smart and capable, she is able to evade the creature and defend herself, but one night of fear turns out to be only the start of what turns out to be an ever-escalating nightmare.
No One Will Save You unfolds a terrifying adventure almost entirely without dialogue, and Kaitlyn Dever shines in the lead role.
What makes No One Will Save You particularly special beyond its rich themes and high tension is the fact that there is almost zero dialogue in the 93 minute runtime. Never feeling like it’s executing a gimmick, the movie performs a wonderful dance in its construction, following Brynn through scenes where either speech is unnecessary or where more can be said without it. The silence draws you in even as the horror activates your fight-or-flight reflex, and it’s the ultimate showcase of showing instead of telling in a cinematic landscape full of awkward exposition delivered in the name of explaining everything to an audience.
Of course, one of the side effects of No One Will Save You being a nearly silent film is an extra onus on the expressions of the protagonist – but taking care of that job is one of the best young actors of her generation. Kaitlyn Dever has been impressing audiences for years now, from the hard edge she demonstrated on the series Justified to her brilliant comedic timing in Booksmart, and yet, this is arguably her most impressive work yet. From peaceful solitude, to chest-clenching anxiety, to unbridled panic, to heart-wrenching heartbreak, Brynn’s whole emotional journey is powerfully told through Dever’s near-wordless performance, and it’s arresting in every moment.
There’s a lot to love about No One Will Save You simply as a scary movie, but it also does wonders with heavy themes.
Brynn is a character with a level of mystery maintained around her, but her innocent hobbies and sweet disposition make her lovable – and that makes for a perfect setup when No One Will Save You introduces aliens into the story. The film opts to not do anything too fancy in the design department, going with the aforementioned classic “grey” look, but their familiar appearance is paired with seriously scary abilities and technology that keep every moment of the journey intense. Just when you think the movie has thrown its wildest idea at you, it one-ups itself in both creativity and terror with things paralyzing beams of light and hallucination-inducing parasites. It’s a shame that this is going straight to Hulu and not getting the opportunity to thrill audiences in theaters, as it’s a film that elicits big reactions, but it’s still a terrific experience watched at night in a dark living room.
It’s a perfect fit for spooky season viewing, but like the best examples of the horror genre, No One Will Save You sports real depth that keeps you thinking about it days after you watch. Without giving too much away, the experience the film’s protagonist has evading extraterrestrials has deep parallels to the recovery from grief – and it’s all capped with a terrific, unexpected but still fitting ending.
It’s because of movies like No One Will Save You that the horror genre is presently experiencing a boom, with the film joining an exciting roster of original titles from the last year including Barbarian, Smile, M3GAN and Talk To Me. Even if it ends up being buried like far too many streaming releases, it’s a movie that is destined to at the very least gain a cult following – but it deserves to be a hit, and is a must to be added to your Halloween 2023 watch list.