You'd think that a movie that's 90% Kaitlyn Dever — the other 10% is shoddy alien CGI shots — is right up my alley. Hulu's No One Will Save You, a new alien horror film, proves that's not a winning formula on its own.
It's not that No One Will Save You is completely irredeemable — Dever gives her most convicted performance in her first horror role (to my knowledge), which is crucial since the majority of the film rests on her shoulders given the minimal cast. Brian Duffield attempts to taken an elevated horror/sci-fi approach to the home invasion horror film, but it's unfortunately much too bare.
No One Will Save You review
Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) is a young woman living in solitude in the middle of the woods in her childhood home — the appropriate location of residence for a single person in a horror film. She lives on the outskirts of a Stephen King-like small town (the biggest source of excitement for Brynn is seeing the mail truck) and is treated like an outsider.
Despite the glares from others, Brynn keeps to herself and spends her time constructing a tiny model town. From her forced attempts at a smile to the letters she writes, she's clearly going through grief. We learn that her sister died 10 years ago and that she feels guilty. The guilt takes a back seat for a home invasion when an alien invasion occurs on her property.
The most important part of an alien film is the designs of the extra terrestrial creatures. No One Will Save You, fortunately, does not simply use the lazy template that films including A Quiet Place borrowed from Ridley Scott's Alien. Somehow, they got a blander template with the most offensively boring alien design since Paul. Films like Arrival and Nope paved the way for making unique alien designs.
That's not to crap on the work of the VFX artists, who are often heavily scrutinized. DNEG, the visual effects company behind modern sci-fi classics including Interstellar, Ex Machina, and Dune worked on No One Will Save You. Perhaps this film not having the budget of a tentpole film hindered the creative process. It sucks because not only are the aliens not scary, they don't look great either. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had better-looking aliens.
Despite the lack of thrills that come from the aliens themselves, Dever does one heck of a selling job. Given her lack of horror film experience, the most intriguing part of No One Will Save You was seeing her act terrified. If nothing else, this film showcases her range, as it would take a lot to sell the creepiness of the aliens seen in No One Will Save You. Yet, she found a way — a true testament to her talent.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn Dever has shown her comedic chops (Unbelievable, Dopesick) along with her comedic chops (Booksmart). She attempts to invigorate some life into No One Will Save You's dramatic subplots. Brynn's grief and trauma hardly get the appropriate time allocated to it in the film's 93-minute runtime. In the rare moments that Duffield wrote in for the drama to take over, Dever wills it with an overqualified performance.
Not that Duffield isn't a qualified director — he directs the heck out of No One Will Save You with what's given. It's small scale does enhance parts of it. For example, Brynn's house is a great setting for a horror film. But even then, very little of it is explored outside of the main floor. Hush is a great example of a small-scale horror film that squeezed every ounce of potential out of its setting (which is very similar to No One Will Save You's).
Luckily, the cinematography, which is done by Aaron Morton, and the score, composed by Joseph Trapanese enhance scenes in the house. Morton does a fine job with long takes during chase sequences. There are a few instances where the film is too dark, however, especially when it takes the action outdoors.
The film loses itself when it circles back to its dramatic themes toward the end. What's supposed to feel like a cathartic moment feels rushed as the script vomits all of the background and resolution in a swift five minutes. We finally learn what Brynn did and why she feels guilty, but it feels like it's a part of a script for an entirely different movie. Tonally, there are ways to weave the two genres together — again, Arrival also managed to juggle its dramatic themes with the sci-fi elements — but No One Will Save You opts to mash the two together.
Should you stream No One Will Save You?
We're heading into spooky season, meaning it's the perfect time to binge horror movies. Hulu's No One Will Save You doesn't manage to scare you despite its best efforts, and the drama doesn't quite have the impact it intends to given the middling script.
That said, this is Kaitlyn Dever's most convicted performance to date. It's not her best, but her first venture into the horror genre proves her versatility. Provide her with a better script and you could have your next “Scream Queen.” She was way overqualified for No One Will Save You, but that's almost par for the course in her career (Them That Follow, Dear Evan Hansen).
No One Will Save You will be released on Hulu on September 22.