“If you want to learn about craft and technique,” Steven Spielberg once said, in some advice to aspiring filmmakers, “watch films with the sound off.” That maxim could be aptly applied to No One Will Save You, a film with perhaps only two lines of dialogue throughout its entire runtime, driven almost solely by action and visual storytelling. The latest blockbuster you’ll slightly wish you saw on a big screen rather than quietly shuffled out on a streaming service (though you’ll also be grateful it exists at all), it’s a pleasingly minimalist genre romp, superbly executed without ever feeling gimmicky.
Director Brian Duffield — a talented longstanding spec screenwriter, with writing credits including 2020’s hugely underrated Love And Monsters — borrows tropes from all sorts of cult-movie canons, including haunted-house movies, poltergeist movies, cabin-in-the-woods movies, even creature features. But it’s the film’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers-esque sci-fi, complete with Roswell-esque aliens, that makes the film such an unexpected treat.
The near total absence of dialogue is a fascinating choice, but it totally works for this story.
Booksmart's Kaitlyn Dever plays Brynn, a quiet, prim and proper loner, clearly masking some past trauma, clearly missing a mysteriously absent friend. Within ten minutes of elapsed screen-time, her rickety old childhood home is visited by some unwelcome guests of an extra-terrestrial persuasion, and Dever launches into a full-blown anxiety attack of a performance, her turn as fearless as her character is fearful.
The near total absence of dialogue is a fascinating choice, and might seem bold on paper. But it totally works for this story: Brynn is forced to live an almost monastic life by a community that has shunned her, for reasons that aren’t totally clear to begin with, and the wordless script serves to effectively leave Brynn even more isolated. Dever works magic without ever having to say anything, a natural-born scream queen.
When she finally gets some company, Duffield films his unearthly guests sparingly and smartly, with clever use of CGI and intriguing design choices (the aliens seem to communicate in a low rumble, their necks vibrating as they do). Some of the symbolism is quite blunt, and some of the peril can get a little repetitive by the third act, but Duffield’s skill is to constantly pull rugs out from under you, generating endless surprises which lead to a wild, wild finale. Watch with the sound on — but know that it’ll work just as well with the sound off.