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Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn Adams hides from a wooden joint doll in No One Will Save You Photo: Sam Lothridge/20th Century Studios

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We have to talk about No One Will Save You’s ending

No One Will Save You is about whatever you want it to be

Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

I’d like to tell you exactly what No One Will Save You is about, but there isn’t a right answer. Director Brian Duffield’s alien abduction horror-thriller has no dialogue and multiple endings that contradict each other. The movie isn’t merely “open to interpretation”; it’s a litmus test made of blobs of body horror.

The director agrees. When Polygon spoke with Duffield at length about the film’s repeated contortions of reality and its surprise endings, he said, “I wanted to play fair, but at the same time, I wanted Reddit to have fun.”

OK, reader; let’s have fun.

I will share two interpretations of the movie. Neither are “officially correct,” but both, I feel, can be sufficiently supported with evidence. And in the comments, I’d like to hear your readings of this film. You don’t have to believe your reading is “correct,” but it’d be great if you were thoughtful, curious, and provided examples from the material that support the thesis. It’s sort of like improv or high school debate club: Let the analytical corner of your brain run free.

It’s probably obvious, but there are spoilers ahead!

Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn hiding under a bed and covering her mouth in fear in No One Will Save You. Image: 20th Century Studios

No One Will Save You is about the core millennial theme: trauma and grief

Grief is a frontrunner for the dominant theme of the millennial generation. Born into the economic largess of the 1980s and early ’90s, then raised through multiple wars, recessions, techno bubbles, terror attacks, and multiple drug crises, millennials are the first generation in decades to face more financial challenges than their parents’ generation. Millennials are lucky to have affordable rent as they approach 40, let alone own a home, and many have lost a friend to opioids, the COVID-19 pandemic, or gun violence.

To put it bluntly: Millennials are fucked, and unlike Gen Z, who were born into the shit, many millennials had just enough time in the ’90s to see the before times, when their boomer parents could afford to buy a four-bedroom home off a single income on a typical office paycheck.

No One Will Save You is about the plight of the millennial.

Our heroine, Brynn, is the human embodiment of the millennials, dressing like Zooey Deschanel, working as an Etsy artist, and decorating her home with a cottagecore aesthetic that would kill on Pinterest. She can only afford this house because it’s been bequeathed to her by a wealthy parent. She has no friends in the real world, and boomers hate her. She doesn’t have any history of blogging, but she has been writing notes to herself for at least 10 years. So, close enough.

Brynn carries a personal trauma from a climactic childhood moment that is borderline biblical, and the film offers her — in the place of talk therapy and fluoxetine — a healthy dose of Third Encounters through which she can learn to live with herself. In place of the looming threat of the end of the world through climate change, she gets the real thing.

To quote every 30-something who had a Twitter account in the 2010s: “We live in a hellscape.” No One Will Save You agrees, but counters with an alternative creed: “Embrace the apocalypse with a dance and a smile.”

a close-up Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn in No One Will Save You Image: 20th Century Studios

No One Will Save You is about aliens finding the Earth’s most naturally gifted killer

The first time we see Brynn kill something, it looks like an accident. An alien has stalked her through her home, wrecking the place like a toddler at a Pizza Hut buffet. When she makes a play for the front door, the alien’s telekinetic powers hurl said door directly into her face. She falls to the ground, and her fate appears imminent. In a flash, the alien’s telekinesis lifts Brynn, turning her to face it.

Except, twist: Brynn had been holding on to a broken piece of a miniature model house, and the twirl throws her hand — and more pressingly, the sharp wood — directly into the alien’s soft noggin.

This isn’t Brynn’s only kill. Far from it. What follows is akin to a video game boss gauntlet, in which the young woman battles increasingly powerful aliens, and what at first looked like an accident rapidly reveals itself as skill. At one point, she converts a car into a Saw-like torture chamber that incinerates an alien five times her size.

In the rare moments Brynn isn’t worrying about alien invasion, we see her processing aforementioned trauma. It’s not till the final act we learn what actually happened in Brynn’s childhood: She killed her best friend. In a common childhood spat, Brynn’s friend shoves her to the ground. Without thinking, little Brynn grabs a rock, twirls up into the air and bashes her friend in the skull. Just like that alien.

I’m not saying Brynn wanted to kill her friend. Or even that she wanted to kill all of these aliens. But Frodo didn’t want to carry the Ring. This is classic reluctant hero, Joseph Campbell stuff.

No One Will Save You has multiple emotional payoffs. Brynn gets to apologize to a vision of her dead friend. She gets to apologize to herself, thanks to (what else) an alien she kills. She receives forgiveness from a collective alien hallucination. She gets to choose to keep living by pulling a tiny alien out of her throat. But none of these are the true ending.

For the final minutes of this film, we see Brynn — alive and free of alien control — suddenly friendly with everyone in her hometown. Well, the husks of them. Aliens have taken control of the bodies of, seemingly, everyone but her. In the final shot, we see Brynn dancing and smiling with her alienized neighbors, and UFOs flying into the horizon.

Why would the aliens rebuild Earth to please this human who killed their own? Because they accounted for those losses before they even landed.

No One Will Save You is about a powerful alien race that has traversed galaxies to find someone who didn’t get good at killing but was born good. Brynn is the perfect natural killer. Seeking to learn from her gifts, they recreate all of Earth to honor their Killer Queen. Because Earth is just a stepping stone to total cosmic conquest.

Now it’s your turn. What do you make of No One Will Save You’s ending(s)? Let us know in the comments.


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