No One Will Save You - Photo Hulu
No One Will Save You – Photo Hulu

‘Tis the time for horror movies – and the best of 2023, so far, is Brian Duffield’s “No One Will Save You,” released directly to Hulu.

What makes this sci-fi thriller unique is its lack of dialogue.  There are only five words spoken during its suspenseful 93-minute running time.

Brynn Adams (Kaitlyn Dever) lives alone, way out in the country. She is mourning the deaths of her mother, Sarah, and her best friend, Maude. The two deaths fill Brynn with guilt and trauma. Everyone in the nearest town, Mill River, seems to shun her. 

One night, Brynn awakens to discover an unearthly intruder in her home. Terrified, resourceful Brynn defends herself against the chittering creature’s ability to utilize telekinesis, resulting in its demise.  But soon she’s pursued by its alien cohorts who place a parasite in her mouth, causing her to hallucinate. To tell you more would ruin its effect.

Written, directed and produced by Brian Duffield (“Spontaneous,” “Love and Monsters”), revolving around the theme of self-forgiveness, it was filmed by Aaron Morton in Slidell, Louisiana, in a house that was built in the late 19th century which production designer Ramsey Avery filled with clues about Brynn’s backstory, like her intricate, idyllic dioramas.

Visual effects producer Sarah Miesen noted that the depictions of alien invaders are based on archetypal drawings done in the 1950s by people who either claimed to have had close encounters with flying saucers or to have been abducted and psychically probed by extraterrestrials.

And sound designer/mixer Chris Terhune collaborated with composer Joseph Trapanese on the complementary audio elements.

Just three days after its release, novelist Stephen King posted this Twitter endorsement:  “NONE ONE WILL SAVE YOU – Brilliant, daring, involving, scary. You have to go back over 60 years to a TWILIGHT ZONE episode called ‘The Invaders’ (1961) to find anything remotely like it.”

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro posted: “I couldn’t think of a more perfect movie for your weekend.”

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “No One Will Save You” is an intense, ambiguous 8, streaming on Hulu.

I Am Mother - Photo Netflix
I Am Mother – Photo Netflix

Sci-fi movies about AI and robotics can be terrifying or tortuous – “I Am Mother” falls into the latter category.

Set in a massive, automated, underground laboratory, the story begins with an angular, one-eyed android – embodied by Luke Hawker (who supervised its manufacture at New Zealand’s Weta Workshop) and softly voiced by Rose Byrne.

Calling itself Mother, it chooses one test-tube embryo out of thousands in cryogenic stasis to begin the job of repopulating humanity after a horrific global extinction event. 

After 24 hours in a womblike incubator, the female embryo becomes a crying baby, soothed by Mother singing “Baby of Mine.”

As more time passes, she grows into a toddler, a youngster and, soon, a teenager, identified only as Daughter (Clara Rugaard).

Determined to create a “smarter, more ethical” human race, Mother instructs Daughter in all kinds of moral lessons, honing her physical, intellectual and emotional skills.

While she’s free to roam around the sprawling “reformulation facility,” curious Daughter is forbidden by Mother to venture outside since Mother describes it as a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the air is contaminated.

But one night when metallic Mother has powered down, lonely Daughter hears a knocking at the bunker’s steel outside door. Much to her surprise, she discovers a wounded Woman (Hilary Swank) who needs help. 

When over-protective Mother awakens, she’s immediately ‘on alert,’ marching toward Daughter. “Is that a droid?” inquires the frightened Woman, who has obviously encountered hostile droids in the outside world. 

Inevitably, a relationship grows between the lonely, warily determined Daughter and the grimly desperate Woman – to manipulative Mother’s predictable consternation.

“I was designed to value human life above all else,” Mother explains. “I couldn’t stand by and watch humanity slowly succumb to its self-destructive nature.”

Scripted as a dystopian allegory by Michael Lloyd Green, it was filmed in Australia by first-time feature director Grant Sputone and premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Why wasn’t it immediately released? Perhaps because the tension lapses and the conclusion is complicated and confusing.

On the Granger Gauge, “I Am Mother” is a frustrating, fumbling 5, streaming on Netflix.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.