Writer/director Brian Duffield paints himself into a corner in “No One Will Save You.”
And, like too many genre storytellers, he never writes his way out.
Don’t blame star Kaitlyn Dever.
The “Last Man Standing” alum delivers a powerful turn, with nary a line of dialogue, that anchors the ambitious thriller. It’s still not enough to paper over nagging questions that balloon in a stupefying third act.
And the less said about the resolution, the better.
Dever stars as Brynn, a young woman living in near isolation. She makes the most of it, crafting a mini town in her expansive home and cooking wonderful meals for one.
There’s an undercurrent of sadness lurking around the edges.
She hears someone entering her home one night, assuming it’s your garden-variety intruder. Instead, it’s a skinny grey alien who looks like every extraterrestrial sketch we’ve seen over the past 50-odd years.
“No One Will Save You” embraces that UFO trope, but that doesn’t reduce the ick factor. The creature moves and talks in ways that burrow under the audience’s skin, along with Brynn’s.
What starts as a slick spin on the home invasion thriller blossoms into something more sinister. This alien isn’t alone, and Brynn’s neighbors have already met them.
— Bloody Disgusting (@BDisgusting) September 19, 2023
Duffield fleshes out Brynn’s back story slowly, ensuring it’s a critical part of the narrative. It’s admirable in a genre film, an attention to detail seen throughout the story. Dever does the rest, imbuing every scene with a grittiness that few genre actors can match.
It’s hard to imagine what “No One Will Save You” would be like without her.
Still, the story has to go somewhere, and the deeper into the invasion we go it becomes clear Duffield of “Spontaneous” fame has his work cut out for him.
A smaller-scale thriller might have untied the story knots. Instead, the film takes some head-scratching turns that ratchet down the tension. We’re finally told the secrets behind Brynn’s solitude, but they arrive too late and make little difference in the big picture.
Alien invasions dwarf personal tragedies. Sorry, not sorry.
Duffield delivers some strong individual scares, suggesting a major talent is at work after years of screenwriting efforts (“Love and Monsters,” “Underwater”). The film’s potent sound design more than makes up for the dearth of dialogue, and Dever registers a fear that’s both relatable and genre friendly.
We’d be scared, too, in her shoes.
FAST FACT: A young Kaitlyn Dever spent all of one month in Los Angeles before snagging the first role for which she ever auditioned. She’s also been home-schooled since the fourth grade.
Brynn is no Mary Sue, but a resourceful soul scrambling to live another day. She escapes one pickle after another, but eventually we see the screenplay’s strings in the process.
“No One Will Save You” wraps with a tonal compromise that won’t leave anyone satisfied. That leaves us mulling too many plot contrivances for a story that could have been a stunner with a serious rewrite.
HiT or Miss: “No One Will Save You” offers a brilliant turn by Kaitlyn Dever but can’t live up to its potential.