You’re on Your Own, Kid
Directed by Brian Duffield
Starring Kaitlyn Dever, Zack Duhame, Evangeline Rose
Released September 22nd, 2023
Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever) lives alone now. She writes and mails letters of apology. She spends time picking out just the right dress and practices her smile in the mirror before she ventures into town. She wants to appear upbeat and approachable, yet much like Merricat in Shirley Jackson’s novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle, she is unwelcome. The townspeople shun Brynn because of something she did as a child. We learn that she was responsible for the death of her childhood friend Maude (Evangeline Rose). Brynn returns from her outing to her home. She makes herself dinner. She dances alone to music from the phonograph. Later in the night, a noise leads Brynn to discover a terrifying creature lurking in her humble abode. Aliens have invaded.
The alien’s faces look like the popular “gray alien” type, but their bodies are spindly and sometimes move in a spider-like fashion. They seem to communicate by arranging their limbs in different poses. The creatures possess some level of telekinesis, as they are shown moving items from afar. Their floating ships boast blue tractor beams and red immobilization rays. As interesting as this take on aliens is, the effects leave a lot to be desired. The otherworldly beings have an interesting design, but the computer-generated imagery used to bring them to life is pretty lousy. The scenes featuring close-up struggles between Brynn and the third kind would have benefitted from using practical effects, but perhaps the low budget didn’t allow for this. The poor effects are worth overlooking as the movie has a lot more going on than just being a monster movie.
The alien invasion is interesting because you wonder if any of it is happening at all. The threat could easily be a metaphor for Brynn’s trauma. But I do think the aliens are real and she’s dealing with her personal tragedy at the same time. The aliens seem very interested in Brynn and in her psychological state. Ostracized from town, Brynn doesn’t feel like she’s allowed to have happiness in her life due to causing the death of her friend. The title is perfect. No One Will Save You could serve as a reference to the alien invasion. It could serve as a reference to the guilt Brynn feels for causing her friend’s death. It could serve as an overall statement on the impossibility of redemption in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Is one able to cultivate a new happiness after being responsible for something awful? The movie doesn’t give a definitive answer.
Evangeline Rose appears in flashbacks (or visions?) as Brynn’s deceased childhood friend Maude, and Zack Duhame plays a creepy mailman, but this is basically a one-woman show anchored by Kaitlyn Dever. Dever delivers a powerhouse performance, using her expressive eyes to draw the audience in and making us as confused, sad, and terrified as she is.
We gather all of this information without one syllable of dialogue being spoken. It’s a half hour into the film before Brynn speaks (muttering “Come on!” when a car won’t start) and later in the film she will apologize to another character, but I don’t believe she utters more than ten words in the whole movie. It’s a bold stylistic choice from writer/director Brian Duffield that has a mesmerizing effect. It’s a joy to have a film let itself be a visual medium first and foremost. Instead of relying on endless exposition, the camera lingers on things the audience needs to pay attention to. It’s the most masterful example of show-don’t-tell that I’ve seen in a film in quite some time.