No One Will Save You (USA, 2023)
I’m trying to be a bit more spontaneous with my selections this year. Some days, I’ll look at the list of films I’ve planned out and realise I don’t want to watch any of them. That’s a big part of why I’ve not published a full list in advance this time.
I only heard of No One Will Save You a few days ago, but the reviews looked promising enough that I opted to watch it instead of my planned selection. It’s the latest film from Brian Duffield, who made The Babysitter, which I loved, and Underwater, which I found deeply flawed but not without its merits. Let’s see how this one pans out.
No One Will Save You is currently available on Disney+ in the UK.
Brynn is a young woman who lives alone in a large house located on the outskirts of a classic American small town. She spends her time making stuff to sell on Etsy and building a model town in her living room. The first inkling we get that something is wrong is when she writes a letter to someone called Maude, apologising for a terrible but unspecified misdeed.
This is quickly overshadowed when an alien breaks into the house. After an extended game of cat-and-mouse, Brynn kills it in self-defence. Leaving the body lying in her hallway, Brynn heads into town the following morning to get help. When she enters the police station, however, she is just met with silent glares, and a woman spits in her face.
As Brynn heads home, she sees signs that some of the townsfolk may be under alien mind control. That night, Brynn is drawn into an escalating battle with more and more bizarre forms of aliens, fighting for her life, or at least her autonomy.
What do the aliens want from humanity? Why will no one in town even talk to Brynn? And why have half the reviewers on IMDB completely misunderstood the ending?
I’ve never been particularly excited by horror films about alien abductions. It’s not that I don’t think aliens can be scary (see, well, Alien) or that I don’t like films involving close encounters (see, well, Close Encounters), just that I don’t find films about little grey aliens in flying saucers at all scary.
Maybe this is because they’ve been done badly so many times, but then again so have most movie monsters. A more likely explanation is that they just don’t resonate with that atavistic, superstitious part of my brain that can’t quite shrug off ghosts, demons or vampires. Watching a good horror film about ghosts can have me checking the dark corners of my house before bed. No film has ever left feeling like I might be abducted by aliens, however.
Something about the aliens in No One Will Save You just worked for me. While they’re modelled on the classic greys, their spindly, skeletal bodies are creepy as hell, especially when combined with their spiderlike movements. The creature design gets more creative as the film goes on and Brynn meets new and increasingly bizarre varieties of alien. Their weird technology also helps with the creepiness, as do their nasty little alien parasites. Hell, even the flying saucers look unsettling somehow.
I often read complaints from horror fans about characters acting in suboptimal ways. While I’ve never shared this concern, believing that fear and adrenaline make idiots of the best of us, it is sometimes nice to see a protagonist who does all the right things but still finds themselves in deep trouble. That is very much the case here with Brynn and the impossible opposition she faces.
No One Will Save You is a genuinely odd film. While we’ve seen countless films about alien visitations, there’s been nothing quite like this. It is unique both in tone and content, reinventing well-worn tropes in exciting ways.
In the first act, I almost felt like I was watching an Amblin movie from the 1980s. The gentle, golden-lit Americana of it all lulls you into a false sense of security. Even the first alien visitation, while a little creepy, wouldn’t be out of place in a Spielberg film.
By the third act, however, we’re into full-on monster movie territory, with Brynn being chased around by a progression of increasingly extravagant aliens that straddle the line between absurd and unsettling. But for all the oddness of these creatures, they are not what makes No One Will Save You such a weird film.
A lot of horror films rely on isolation as a means of building tension. This usually means cutting the characters off from the world physically, but No One Will Save You presents a rare example of social isolation. Brynn is surrounded by people, but none of them will so much as speak to her.
This suffocating sense of social isolation is hammered home by the almost total lack of dialogue. We feel as cut off from the world as Brynn is. Not only is this an effective way of ratchetting up the tension, but it lays the groundwork for a genuinely strange but absolutely perfect resolution.
In many ways, No One Will Save You is the film I wanted Signs to be — a fresh, scary take on alien visitations. However, it not only manages this, but turns into something so much more. Highly recommended.
The October Horror Movie Challenge
Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.
If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:
- Dark August (USA, 1976)
- Huesera: The Bone Woman (Mexico/Peru, 2022)
- The Banishing (UK, 2020)
- Brooklyn 45 (USA, 2023)
- Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (Japan, 1995)
- Pyewacket (Canada, 2017)
- Grave Robbers (Mexico, 1989)
- You Might Be The Killer (USA, 2018)
- No One Will Save You (USA, 2023)
- The Sect (Italy, 1991)
- Last Night in Soho (UK, 2021)
- Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Spain, 2017)
- 47 Metres Down (UK/USA, 2017)
- The Oskars Fantasy (Philippines, 2022)
- In the Earth (UK, 2021)
- Something in the Dirt (USA, 2022)
- Blood Flower (Malaysia, 2023)
- Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (Canada, 1987)
- Older Gods (UK, 2023)
- Come to Daddy (New Zealand, 2020)
- Shrew’s Nest (Spain, 2014)
- Totally Killer (USA, 2023)
- The Premonition (USA, 1976)
- Murder Me, Monster (Argentina, 2018)
- The Gruesome Twosome (USA, 1967)
- Talk to Me (Australia, 2023)
- Gaia (South Africa, 2021)
- Demon (Poland, 2015)
- Juju Stories (Nigeria, 2022)
- El Conde (Chile, 2023)
- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hong Kong/UK, 1974)
A Final Note
If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.
- The Night House
- The Changeling
- The Endless
- Our favourite Cthulhu Mythos media
- The Fly
- A Dark Song
- The Thing
- The Ritual
- The Wicker Man
- The Stone Tape
- Event Horizon
- The Witch
- INLAND EMPIRE
- Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions
- Maléfique and The Ninth Gate
- Re-Animator and From Beyond
- Repulsion and The Babdook
- Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and S&man
- A selection of weird films
- David Cronenberg
- The films that scared us most
If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!