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Sunday, October 1, 2023

No One Will Save You Director Brian Duffield Takes a Big Leap with His New Alien Thriller

It’s not an accident that Brian Duffield has become one of the most sought-after writer/producer/directors today. The man is known for mashing up genres and pushing the limits, especially when it comes to intense thrillers and even campy outings such as Cocaine Bear, which Duffield produced and Elizabeth Banks directed for Universal. In his latest outing, No One Will Save You, Duffield delivers an intense, creepy thriller about a harrowing home invasion. This is not your garden-variety home invasion, however, where a mysterious character hunts down a victim. It’s an alien invasion, folks, and one young woman, Brynn Adams (Kaitlyn Dever of Justified and Booksmart) must fight for her life.

That premise ignites this engaging sci-fi psychological thriller and gives audiences somebody to root for in Brynn. After she’s awakened one night, Brynn discovers there is an alien in her house. An action-packed face-off ensues as Brynn must deal with the threat. But in doing so, she must also confront her troubling past, which resulted in her ostracization. That’s plenty to supercharge this unique extraterrestrial film, and writer/director Brian Duffield employs bold choices here that keep you on the edge of your seat. The filmmaker shared more about the film and his inspiration behind it in this exclusive MovieWeb interview.

Understanding the Backstory

No One Will Save You
20th Century Studios

The inspiration for No One Will Save You came from several ideas Duffield was juggling around and then mashed together. He had mapped out the character of Brynn, plotting out her backstory and the world that she lived, but something was still missing.

“I didn’t really know what to do with it until I had this other idea for a strange alien invasion movie,” Duffield said. “I knew I wanted to start [the drama] early into the movie. The ideas coincided together in a really nice way. I thought her point of view was this very unexpected situation.”

Duffield was clear about one thing: He wanted audiences to immediately realize that Brynn’s peaceful existence was being threatened by dangerous creatures from another world. His intention was to go for a classical design, crafting a horror movie centered around the Grey design. In a unique twist that wound up working for Duffield he kept the script light on dialogue and exposition. He wanted audiences recognize that Brynn’s home invader was an alien, not a creepy killer who barged into the house. To that end, Brynn immediately understands what she’s dealing with. Duffield explained:

“In terms of the dialogue, embarrassingly, I didn’t clock it myself for a good chunk of writing, because the character is alone a lot. The movie really starts fast. The party begins five minutes into it, so it took a while for me to realize that. And then it was kind of like, ‘Oh, I could see this out. So, the writing of it and the making of it, didn’t feel that different than my last movie, where there is a lot of talking.”

Duffield’s previous works stand out, in fact. In addition to producing the wickedly fun early 2023 comedy thriller Cocaine Bear, he penned Love and Monsters starring Dylan O’Brien and Underwater starring Kristen Stewart. He also scripted The Babysitter and produced Netflix’s The Babysitter: Killer Queen, the film’s sequel. If you were a fan of The Divergent Series: Insurgent, thank Duffield. He penned that, too. It all filters into the creative mix, but No One Will Save is unique for Duffield because it is his second feature as a bona fide filmmaker.

Making Aliens From Scratch

No One Will Save You
20th Century Studios

Creating a “realistic” alien can be challenging for any filmmaker and special effects crew. The aliens featured in No One Will Save You are downright chilling.

“There were some challenging aspect sin terms of a practical effects and design. I got to cast Kaitlyn, and with these aliens, and you have to create something that can match her, which is basically impossible,” explained Duffield.

“So that was the challenge — creating these guys, giving them a culture and a dialect, because they’re ‘talking’ the whole movie, she just can’t understand what they’re saying, but she needs to be able to recognize patterns in their speech. So that was the most challenging part, but it was also fun. That’s why you get up in the morning. You get to design an alien religion and stuff like that.”

Related: 30 Most Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made, Ranked

He went on to say that there was some puppet work implanted with the alien figures in the movie, but that most of the aliens were realized, thanks to CGI. The most challenging parts of making the movie occurred the week before he started shooting, when the COVID surge hit hard. It was also hurricane season in New Orleans, where the film was shot.

“I really want people to go on the ride with this and a relentless, lean, mean, you’re-out-of-breath-at-the-end experience,” Duffield beamed. “I want people to feel as if they’ve been on this kind of insane abduction/invasion experience with Kaitlyn’s character. Her character is surprisingly complex and tricky, especially for a movie like this. Hopefully the audience leaves thinking about her, what she’s been going through, and where she winds up by the end of the movie.”

Brian Duffield’s Past Influences

Brian Duffield

Duffield culled from his past film loves, hoping to supercharge No One Will Save. A self-described kid of the ’80s, he was fascinated with Jurassic Park in the early ’90s, calling it a big lightning bolt kind of experience,” similar to Star Wars. He appreciated turn-of-the-millennium sci-fi where the likes of Steven Spielberg had done A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Minority Report back to back.

“M. Night Shyamalan rose at the perfect time for me,” Duffield said. “He was also from Philadelphia, like me, so it was really inspiring that this young guy was out there doing the thing I wanted to do from where I’m from. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs was a big trifecta for me. I just wanted to be Shyamalan. I think there’s a lot of Shyamalan in this movie.”

Related: Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Movies of 2022, Ranked

As for working with Kaitlyn Dever, Duffield said it rocked his world:

She’s this little miracle of an actor. It’s really crazy what she can do. It’s a lot of work and effort on her behalf, but you would never know it. She could be screaming, then crying, and you call a cut, then she’s just like, “That was great and really fun.”

“She had done so much amazing dramatic work, like in Short Term 12 and Unbelievable, then comedy in Booksmart, but hadn’t gotten to do something like this that was physically demanding,” added Duffield. “She was really excited to get to do all the wire work and stunts and run around like Tom Cruise.”

Would he be open for a sequel? Surely, by film’s end, one can envision another iteration of No One Will Save You. “Kaitlin and I joked once that this could be our Before Sunrise movie, where every seven years we pop back in, but I don’t have a story for what happens next.”

Not yet anyway. Catch No One Will Save You September 22 on Hulu.

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