Writer/director Brian Duffield’s 2020 film “Spontaneous” was a clever mix of comedy, teen drama, and horror. With that film, the director defied audiences’ expectations and delivered something fresh and surprisingly moving, blending genre conventions with social metaphors to great effect. With “No One Will Save You”, Duffield has done it again, crafting an alien/creature feature piece that is clever and entertaining and one that holds more depth than audiences would imagine.
These days, few genre filmmakers understand tension, mood, and character, their pictures too concerned with shaky-cam madness and an over reliance on jump scares. What Duffield does is pretty incredible for a horror film in the cinema world of 2023. The director makes a 90 minute genre film almost completely void of dialogue; a film that uses its time to build palpable tension and character development through movement, visual queues, and tone.
A terrific Kaitlyn Dever is Brynn, a young woman who lives alone just outside of town. Her house lies in a wooded area off of a country road, providing her with seclusion from the world. On the surface, her life seems picturesque. Brynn plays records and dances around her house, cooks, and does crafts. It is quickly revealed there is something sad about it all. Brynn is plagued by loneliness and a deep emotional pain and this life is far from idyllic. Her isolation is not of her own doing, as it becomes clear that Brynn has been shunned by her small town.
As the layers of Brynn’s past are patiently revealed throughout, “No One Will Save You” wastes no time, diving right into the horrors that will plague its lead character. In the middle of the night, Brynn is awakened by noises downstairs. As she investigates, she discovers an alien inside her home. What follows is a minute by minute nightmare that finds Brynn fighting for survival against an alien invasion.
Duffield knows what works and doesn’t allow his audience a second to rest, keeping the intensity at high levels. With each nail-biting moment, the film reveals more about the invaders intentions, as Brynn’s home becomes a prison of almost inescapable impediments in her fight for survival.
Kaitlyn Dever does great work portraying the emotional complexities of her character. Amongst the madness and chaos of the alien attack, Brynn confronts her past. The manner in which Brynn’s life intertwines with the invasion is quite surprising and well handled by both the screenplay and Dever’s impressive performance. As the film rests on her shoulders, the actress seamlessly embodies the character, bringing a convincing self reliance and poignancy to the role.
Cinematographer Aaron Morton’s camera brings sharp focus to the horrors through tight framing while Joe Trapanese’s score brings an old school sound to the orchestrations, getting good effect from the eerie string section and a deep synth undercurrent.
One of the shining stars of the film is its sound design. Chris Terhune and Will Files tighten our nerves by creating an unsettling aura of clicks, creaks, and moans that intensify the chilling atmosphere, putting the audience directly into Brynn’s torturous night of terror.
Brian Duffield wants to give his audience an experience full of chills and nerve fraying thrills, achieving his goal by keeping his film wire-tight. There isn’t a wasted minute in this thrilling picture, but the screenplay holds a depth of emotion that snakes through the screenplay until the final moment becomes a moving and impactful surprise.
Duffield has that rarest of gifts, an original cinematic voice and a unique talent for infusing his pictures with a potent and soulful center. Thematically, his films as writer and director are two of the freshest and most intelligent genre works of the last 20 years. Captivating, intense, and consistently surprising, “No One Will Save You” is a riveting film and a great head start to the 2023 horror movie season.
No One Will Save You
Written and Directed by Brian Duffield
Starring Katilyn Dever
PG-13, 93 Minutes, 20th Century Studios/Star Thrower Entertainment