A title like No One Will Save You harkens back to the terrified-solo-young-woman-versus-home-invader flicks of the 1970s. And while much of the action revolves around a young woman alone in her house facing off against an attacker, that’s where those comparisons stop. This film doesn’t play off of notions of isolation or, say, Carol Kane’s turn in When a Stranger Calls. Instead, it jams the idea into an alien-invasion trope.
As such, No One Will Save You (now streaming on Hulu) is a gimmicky flash in the pain — told with little real substance but a whole lot of overstuffed trickery. It’s a simple story told through the eyes of a solitary young woman (Kaitlyn Dever) that is completely removed from the world-changing event unfolding around her. What does work about it mostly apes bits of other, better projects, and even those are tossed into a blender without any flourishes of their own added (bits from Signs, dribbling in a little I Am Legend or any number of post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers, and — forgive me for this comparison — a touch of Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
Writer-director Brian Duffield also wedges a trauma metaphor into his muddled, overwrought narrative — creating an uneven mishmash of mini-stories involving the same character fighting the same enemy without cohesion or heart.
Dever (Booksmart) actually acquits herself quite well in carrying this film. For large stretches of the film, Dever is the only person on the screen — carrying out long stretches of silence and then acting against computer-generated antagonists. It’s a testament to Dever’s skill and magnetism that she’s able to wring out what pathos she can and sustain the level of interest she does.
But her Brynn is not a particularly well-written character, more or less defined by her traumatic past and her current situation. And without dialogue to flesh out her character, there just isn’t much meat on the bone.
Glimpses into Brynn’s past quickly become predictable and completely undermine what Dever brings to the character, and the actress’s wide-eyed terror doesn’t overcome the gravity of her sins.
This recent trend of hinting at a past albatross that still clings to the protagonist’s neck — and then slowly revealing it throughout the film — is quickly becoming a storytelling crutch. It is particularly egregious in No One Will Save You and somehow makes Brynn’s story progressively less interesting as the film’s action ramps up. By the time her secret is revealed, it’s difficult to care.
It’s the ultimate in misdirected priorities, offering a small (and by comparison pointless) story. It would be like if Independence Day was centered around the love story involving the girl who played Randy Quaid’s daughter. So sorry the bad shit you did when you were a kid is still bugging you during the most cataclysmic event in human history.
Duffield also unnecessarily complicates the film’s primary selling point — a premise with promise that the filmmaker can’t maintain for the film’s full length. At one point, it spills into Brynn’s nearby city — which sparks a head-spinning back-and-forth narrative that emits a zombie-flick vibe before transitioning back to a modified form of the original plot. Only now the aliens somehow have maddening new abilities that would have proven far more useful to them earlier in the film.
So it goes for No One Will Save You, a film that doesn’t really understand what it is but yet revels in the thought that it’s more profound than what it provides.