There’s a golden rule in filmmaking that often separates the good from the truly exceptional: show, don’t tell. It’s a principle that champions the power of visual storytelling, where actions, expressions, and the carefully crafted atmosphere speak louder than words. Writer/director Brian Duffield’s No One Will Save You not only embraces this philosophy to the fullest, but elevates it to an art form.
The film opens with Brynn (Dever), a reclusive seamstress still residing in her childhood home, gripped by the grief of losing her mother and her closest friend. Brynn leads a solitary, anxiety-ridden existence, where every step into the community is met with cold stares and whispered secrets. One night, she’s awakened by a clatter outside her bedroom window. She discovers knocked-over bins and a rattling lid, and reluctantly heads downstairs to investigate. But as soon as she sets foot on the staircase, she realizes there is someone – or something – in the house with her, and a chilling game of cat-and-mouse ensues.
From the start, the film establishes a solid pace and buildup, immersing the audience in its world with masterful cinematography and suspenseful camerawork. The visuals are hauntingly captivating, adding to the already gripping narrative. While the premise occasionally flirts with silliness, the film swiftly reclaims its grip on the audience’s fear when the absurdity transforms into sheer terror. The first home invasion sequence is genuinely frightening, a testament to Duffield’s adeptness at building tension. He leans heavily into classic horror tropes, such as creaky stairs, scuttling footsteps, and heavy breathing, crafting a truly spine-tingling experience.
However, what makes No One Will Save You truly unique is its daring choice to be a mostly silent film, fully embracing the principle of “show, don’t tell.” With just one line of dialogue, the film relies on a unique blend of diegetic sound and a carefully crafted musical score from Joseph Trapanese to tell its story. This lack of dialogue creates a hauntingly atmospheric and immersive experience, drawing the audience deeper into Brynn’s unsettling world. The film transcends the limits of verbal expression, as screams, groans, and breaths become the eloquent language of fear and survival. This results in an otherworldly journey where silence speaks volumes, greatly enhancing the film’s eerie allure.
At the center of this journey is Kaitlyn Dever’s standout performance as Brynn, the film’s smart and resourceful protagonist. She is incredibly present and committed here, barely ever leaving the screen and saying a thousand things with her eyes alone at any one moment. It’s a demanding role, requiring the actor to convey Brynn’s past, guilt, grief, and trauma through body language and reaction rather than verbal dialogue. Dever rises to the challenge with ease, delivering a nuanced and powerful performance that reinforces the need for her to take on more leading roles. It’s a testament to Dever’s talent and versatility that she’s able to carry the film on her shoulders, as Brynn is essentially the only character on screen.
No One Will Save You is a unique and innovative film that pushes the boundaries of cinematic storytelling, a masterclass in suspense, with Duffield building tension and dread throughout. Clocking in at only 90 minutes, it breezes by while keeping the audience engaged throughout. Kaitlyn Dever is a star in the making and deserves all the praise for her exceptional performance, and I’m excited to see what she accomplishes in the years to come. It was refreshing to see a movie rely entirely on the concept of “show, don’t tell” instead of endless exposition and clichéd dialogue. Both thought-provoking and entertaining, this one is sure to stay with you long after you’ve seen it.