Home invasion films tap into an almost universal fear. From Fred Walton’s When a Stranger Calls to 2008’s The Strangers, the highs of the genre prey on the anxiety that bolted doors and locked windows can only do so much to protect you from violent terror.
No One Will Save You, Hulu’s latest horror film premiere, thoroughly understands this, brilliantly springboarding off home invasion and extraterrestrial horror tropes to create a ride that’s both psychological and full of surprises. This is a scary movie.
Known for his work on the slasher comedy The Babysitter and his directorial debut, the horror love story Spontaneous, writer-director Brian Duffield’s sophomore film stars Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) as Brynn, a socially phobic shut-in forced to defend herself when her home is inexplicably invaded by alien intruders. Before the arrival of the ETs, Brynn is already haunted by an undisclosed tragedy that has made her the de facto pariah of her quaint hometown. From the hushed whispers and piercing glares of her neighbors to visible dents in her mailbox and a vulgar anonymous phone call, Duffield sets up the horror with a kind of visual storytelling that trusts and rewards the audience for paying close attention to every detail laid in front of them.
One thing that won’t be hard to notice: The entirety of No One Will Save You is absent of nearly any spoken dialogue.
He may be a career screenwriter, Duffield’s choice to play lightly with dialogue continues through most of the movie’s run time. To make up for it, there’s an increased reliance on the production design — a detailed diorama of Brynn’s hometown, or overhead shots of mysterious circles burned into the lawns of a trail of houses — as well as the score and physical performance. Dever’s reactive work grounds Brynn’s solitary existence and the scale of the threat that the invaders pose to everyone in her community.
Speaking of which, for a straight-to-streaming release, the special effects in No One Will Save You are fantastic. The extraterrestrials who beset Brynn’s home and neighborhood resemble the archetypal gray aliens that populate UFO pop culture, albeit with some fiendishly bizarre twists. From contortionist bipeds to lanky, looming quadrupeds with insectoid eyes and gaunt, pointy fingers, Duffield and production designer Ramsey Avery do a terrific job of transforming a familiar creature design into a terrifying and inscrutable menace.
While the action gets big and eventually moves outside to the surrounding wooded environs, Duffield firmly places No One Will Save You in the home invasion canon by making use of Brynn’s house itself, peering through glass window murals and peeking between the tresses of elaborate wood pillars. Even the appliances can strike fear; when Brynn initially encounters the invaders, she finds herself trapped behind the door of her refrigerator as they telepathically tear the kitchen asunder. It’s a frightening moment that emphasizes how Brynn’s once familiar and mundane home has been weaponized against her through the sheer presence of these otherworldly creatures.
The score by Joseph Trapanese (The Witcher) is especially worthy of praise, with shrill, stabbing violins and brooding synths that punctuate a soundscape of gasping breaths and indecipherable guttural roars and chittering. Both Dever and Trapanese are the undisputed MVPs of this film, carrying a majority of the dramatic and emotional weight of No One WIll Save You through their combined efforts.
Like the many black saucers that hover obscured in the storm clouds above Brynn’s home, Duffield’s film sneaks up on the audience and defies expectations. No One Will Save You is not just a terrific horror-thriller, but one of the most surprising and entertaining sci-fi films the year has to offer.
No One Will Save You premieres Sept. 22 on Hulu.