Over the decades, Hollywood has explored all manner of alien invasion storyline in science fiction movies, but Save Yourselves! manages to still put a fresh spin on the classic narrative premise. The movie follows a couple of screen-addicted Brooklyn Millennials who decide to unplug for a week at a cabin upstate and wind up missing a deadly alien invasion, forcing them to bumble their way through the apocalypse. Save Yourselves! is the feature-length directorial debut from filmmakers Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson, who additionally penned the script. More Millennial introspection than sci-fi movie, what Save Yourselves! lacks in world-building, it makes up for with charming relatable comedy.
Brooklyn-based couple Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Paul Reynolds) are living the lives of normal Millennials: Working jobs they aren’t passionate about, spending too much time on their various devices and getting into arguments over relatively minor inconveniences. After attending a party with some of their friends, they’re inspired to get away from the city and unplug for a week, taking up their friend Raph (Ben Sinclair) on the offer of his cabin upstate. However, while they’re working on living in the moment and reconnecting with each other, the rest of the world is dealing with an invasion of deadly aliens that look like little poof balls. It’s only when Su breaks the pact and turns on her phone that she gets a hint at the invasion, but thinks nothing of it until strange happenings occur at the cabin. Together, Su and Jack will have to face the alien invasion and try to make it out alive.
For a movie based in the idea of missing an alien apocalypse while unplugged from the world, Save Yourselves! has surprisingly conflicted messages about how much Millennials use their phones – perhaps because that’s not really what the movie is about. In fact, Save Yourselves! is more about Su and Jack’s relationship and how that’s impacted by technology. That exploration of Su and Jack’s relationship makes up for the bulk of the first two acts and thanks to Mani and Reynolds’ performances, the couple are a relatable, funny and charming pair. They’re helped by a clever script by Fischer and Wilson, who have the couple deftly shift from a fight about authenticity to soap in a way that feels achingly true to life. Save Yourselves! is a compelling look at Su and Jack’s ups and downs, as an alien invasion forces them to truly confront who they are as individuals and a couple.
However, if viewers came to Save Yourselves! looking for complex world-building or deep alien mythology, this is not that movie. Because the film is focused on the perspective of two Brooklyn Millennials, there’s very little they know about the aliens – which means there’s very little the audience knows about the aliens. It makes Save Yourselves! a vastly different kind of alien invasion film, but not necessarily a better or more enjoyable one. As the third act focuses more on Su and Jack navigating the alien invasion, the story becomes thin as the lack of world-building is unable to sustain the movie. This ultimately leads to a frustrating end to the narrative, even if there’s a compelling enough thematic conclusion for Su and Jack.
In the end, Save Yourselves! is a refreshingly different take on the alien invasion story, but that may be down to the movie not really being an alien invasion story. It’s more of a dramedy about one couple’s relationship, set against the backdrop of an alien invasion. This may be disappointing for anyone looking for a fun sci-fi movie, since it doesn’t really spend much time with the sci-fi elements of its premise. Instead, Save Yourselves! uses that premise to explore the dynamic of Su and Jack, which makes it a much slower, more character-driven movie, with some funny moments.
As a result, those more interested by the premise of Save Yourselves! may want to give the movie a shot, but perhaps not if the only compelling aspect are the aliens. The movie is frustratingly light on alien and sci-fi world-building, which may disappoint viewers looking for a more typical science fiction flick. Still, those won over by Mani and Reynolds’ characters will find plenty to love in Save Yourselves! – though, conversely, Su and Jack may come off as more insufferable than charming to some viewers, and those folks will be hard-pressed to find anything redeemable in the film. Save Yourselves! is not a classic alien invasion flick, but the quirky comedy will find its fair share of fans.
Save Yourselves! is now playing in U.S. theaters and is available on digital October 6. It is 93 minutes long and rated R for for language.
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