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The sci-fi horror film “No One Will Save You” (2023) follows the story of Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever), a woman who tries to survive an alien invasion.

(Spoilers) In the ending:

Brynn is captured by the aliens and taken to their spaceship. There, she is surrounded by the extraterrestrial creatures, who seem to probe her mind. She flashes back to a traumatic memory from her childhood, when she unintentionally killed her best friend, Maude.

The aliens communicate with each other, apparently discussing Brynn and her past. Then, they release her and send her back to Earth.

The next day, we see a different Brynn: happy and upbeat. She interacts with other people, who are now friendly to her. However, we soon realize that they are either infected by the aliens or replaced by them.

What is the meaning of this ambiguous ending? Why did the aliens spare Brynn and return her to Earth? Did they find something in her mind that made them think she was worthy or compatible with their plans? Why did the aliens care about her guilt over unintentionally killing her friend?

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  • I've read the script. The end is no clearer in written form.
    – Valorum
    Sep 22, 2023 at 18:32

4 Answers 4

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The writer and director of No One Will Save You, Brian Duffield, shared in an interview that the aliens let Brynn go because they sensed her genuine remorse for killing both Maude and possibly the aliens she encountered. He also said that “she and the aliens have a lot in common, and they can benefit each other a lot,” and that the aliens saw her as a “worthy adversary that doesn’t have to be an adversary.”

Duffield also mentioned in another interview that “[Brynn] was also creating a world, and certain other characters [the aliens] were also trying to create a new world, and maybe there was something in common there.”

Both Brynn and the aliens are into world-building, literally and figuratively. Brynn likes to make model villages and dreamed of a better world where she wasn't a pariah, while the aliens wanted to reshape the Earth to their liking. The aliens thought: Hey, Brynn's cool. She’s sorry for what she did, and she shares our vision. Let’s let her join our new world.

The aliens appreciated Brynn’s remorse, and since they had similar visions for the new world, the aliens decided that it would be mutually beneficial for both sides to let her live in the post-invasion world.

The Hollywood Reporter: Brynn is eventually abducted into a UFO, and during a study, she’s forced to relive her traumatic memories before finally forgiving herself. Do the aliens ultimately free her because they can sense the genuine remorse she feels for both Maude and maybe even the original alien she killed?

Brian Duffield: Yeah, not to put too fine a point on it, but it was a real fine line to walk. You don’t want the closeup of the alien with a tear going down its cheek where it really feels that and understands. What’s fun about them is that you don’t understand and she doesn’t understand why, necessarily, which I know can be frustrating for some. It is so bizarre what happens in the third act, but she does have that moment of being able to literally hold her hand. And after that happens, she’s good to go. There’s a real weight off of her shoulders.

And then everything else that happens is not necessarily what she would’ve expected or what the audience might’ve expected, but she’s not Tom Cruise. There’s never a world in which she’s launching the nukes. And if anything, she and the aliens have a lot in common, and they can benefit each other a lot.

A lot of the ending stemmed from the idea that Brynn has spent all this time making her own world in a similar fashion to the aliens, and there is a little bit of a conversation to be had amongst these aliens that are now driving our bodies around, as it were. It felt like there was a little bit of a tongue in cheek, and everything that she had done in the first 10 minutes of the movie could be beneficial. I didn’t want the aliens to be too empathetic, but I also think they understood that Brynn was a worthy adversary that doesn’t have to be an adversary.

Source: No One Will Save You’ Filmmaker Brian Duffield Breaks Down His Alien Invasion Thriller’s Wild Ending. The Hollywood Reporter (emphasis mine)

Not to be deterred, Duffield and Avery went back to the drawing board and came up with the idea of birdhouses. In addition to the village, they found a way to work the motif throughout the film as a way to connect Brynn to her mother and her alien adversaries.

“And [Avery] came up with this whole backstory between her mom and her and these birdhouses,” [Duffield] said. “There’s birdhouses throughout the movie outside, you have to try and spot them. The idea was that she was also creating a world, and certain other characters were also trying to create a new world, and maybe there was something in common there.

Source: ‘The House Is the Co-Lead’: How Brian Duffield Used Set Design as Exposition in His Dialogue-Free ‘No One Will Save You’. IndieWire (emphasis mine)

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  • A very interesting interview. Some of this seems to mildly contradict the script.
    – Valorum
    Sep 26, 2023 at 10:53
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From what I can tell from the screenplay, the ending is almost exactly as you've described it. She wakes up in a town consisting of people who're mind-controlled clones of the original inhabitants. Her flashback memories make it clear that she had zero love for the originals, nor they for her, and she evidently has no problem interacting with their duplicates and in fact likes them a whole lot better.

EXT. TOWN - DAY
Brynn walks down Main Street.
Everyone watches her. Everyone hates her.
Her hands shake.

INT. BRYNN’S HOUSE - DAY
Brynn cleans her house. Makes it her own. Makes it perfect.

EXT. BRYNN’S HOUSE - NIGHT
Brynn scrubs “Murderer” off the side of her house.

At the end of the film, it seems as if the aliens realised that she has no objection to their aims of world domination, and in fact may help them by teaching them to better mimic humans and understand human idiosyncrasies like Christmas.

She’s in the middle of the road.
On MAIN STREET.
Newly painted. Newly manicured.
Christmas lights twinkling overhead.
She surveys it all proudly.
Because SHE DID ALL OF THIS.
And then She begins DANCING
Alone at first Until she sees PEOPLE standing off to the side of the streets
You’d recognize some of them.
The Mail Man.
The Teenage Cashier.
The Women from the funeral.
Something a little...
Off about them.
ALL OF THEM.
As if they were all getting used to their new bodies.
Because they are.
Brynn twirls and a MAN is waiting in front of her
They begin to dance.
Her smiles, still getting the hang of it.
It’s not great, but he’ll figure it out with her help.
And after a few moments
A WOMAN is waiting for them
She replaces the man
And her and Brynn dance.
Brynn having the time of her life.
Having a community.
A home.
All of her own.
She smiles, full of contentment and joy, nothing awkward or forced about it anymore.
It’s been a good day.

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The interview with the screenwriter shows once again that the creators of a story aren’t always the best interpreters of that story. If that’s what he really thinks.I suspect he knows better, but doesn’t want to sound pompous. Compared to the images actually presented on screen, there is no way this is a happy ending, not even for Brynn.

Throughout the first two acts she fights like hell to survive what is essentially a home invasion. Or we might say she fights like Ripley, displaying toughness, resourcefulness, determination, and that uber-human skill, inventive violence. Good for her. I always root for the humans.

Unlike Ripley, however, killing a big bad hive-queen-looking thing isn’t enough. She’s overwhelmed by the aliens’s numbers and technology. She experiences a classic abduction, lifted in a beam of light to an alien ship where the invaders can have their way with her. The next morning she wakes up in a perfect Laura Ashley world, where everyone is goofily happy. Norman Rockwell has more grit and less sentimentality in his paintings than what’s in Brynn’s new existence.

Before I say what it all obviously means, let me note that there is no reason to assume that Brynn is the sole living person in town. There’s nothing to distinguish her from the others. What’s happened is the aliens have altered the humans, Brynn included, to level personality difference, removing individual free will.

The moral of the movie is that no matter how hard you fight, or how lucky you seem to be now and then, in the end we are all fucked. In the sense that we all suffer the defeat of death, for one thing, but a lot more besides. Human life is full of pain and boredom and fear and anguish, with occasional bursts of joy. Many of us carry a feeling of blood guilt, as Brynn does, except that most are born with it.

In other words, this movie has profound things to say about the human condition, and it says them with great feeling in a movie of almost no dialogue.

Getting back to the nuts and bolts, the aliens could think themselves benevolent, taking away our agency so we can live in a perfectly peaceful world, not grasping how much we love—need—our misery and conflict and struggle. Hell, without these, human existence has no savor, no meaning.

More likely, they have no compassion for us. They’re turning the planet into a big audio animatronic Disney World for purposes of their own

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Why do you say the aliens have removed Brynn's free will?
    – DavidW
    Nov 1, 2023 at 20:59
  • This is an interesting and insightful analysis, but it seems to stray from the question and focus more on your personal opinion of the movie and your critique of the screenwriter’s statements about the movie. Could you please edit your answer to address the question more directly and lessen the unnecessary commentary on the other aspects of the movie? Nov 2, 2023 at 6:21
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watched it last night...there was an article I read afterwards in trying to interpret the ending where it mentioned that Brynn got her own real perfect little model village. Like the model village she had in her house that was destroyed in the beginning by the aliens. She didn't care that everyone else was dead. And was Maude just like a sister to her, or were they lovers? I heard that mentioned also. Great movie. And I like the fact that you have to read things into it.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. You improve this answer a bit by editing it to include a link to the article you mentioned. Adding a quote of the relevant text from the article would be nice as well. Sep 25, 2023 at 12:09

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