SAVE YOURSELVES! Is A Charming Twist On The Alien Invasion Genre
There are few things better than a disconnect. Throwing your phone on Do Not Disturb, setting up your Out Of Office notifications, deleting your social media apps for a bit. These are all incredibly therapeutic, and even though we may be a bit anxious about the storm of notifications waiting for our inevitable arrival, we do it anyway because in many ways, it’s necessary. Now, imagine how many notifications would be going crazy if the world was being invaded by aliens and you were nowhere near your phone during the initial arrival? With Save Yourselves!, co-writer/director team Alex H. Fischer and Eleanor Wilson portray that exact scenario. When Brooklyn couple Jack (John Reynolds) and Su (Sunita Mani) decide they need a break from the world, they take a trip upstate and decide to go off the grid. No phone, no laptop, no technology. Little do they know just how poorly timed this decision was.
There are two elements of Save Yourselves! that were absolutely crucial to the success of this film. The creature design, and the chemistry between the two leads, seeing as how they run the show for the short but sweet runtime. And make no mistake, both elements deserve praise because the cast and crew definitely nailed it in these regards. Jack and Su are two 30-year-old Brooklyn residents that completely embody that Brooklyn quirkiness that makes the borough one of the most fun places to be at the moment. The two leads work incredibly well off of each other, with witty banter that feels authentic, but also getting into more serious moments that feel like a genuine couple working through barriers that may have been built up. When there’s no phones to distract, it’s sometimes very apparent what the root of a problem is, and these roots come to light in a very organic way. This is certainly a comedic film, so there is room to play, but these more down to earth moments really ground the film in something purely authentic, even as aliens begin coming into the picture.
And with regards to the aliens, have no fear (or completely panic). They are adorable, but that doesn’t mean they are any less of a threat. The invading pouffes are initially mistaken as large rats in the city, or in the case of the cabin, a decorative piece of furniture. They’re reminiscent of Tribbles from Star Trek, but with a larger build, and most impressively, entirely practical. It’s a refreshing change of pace to not see the typical little green Martian creature that many sci-films enjoy using, and something as fresh as this is really felt. When “motivations” are revealed, Save Yourselves! only further proves that it’s a refreshingly bold and creative take on the alien encounter genre. This refreshing spirit allows the film more room to breathe, and in turn, allows the viewer to become much more invested in the crux of the film, the relationship being tested, and the world at large being tested as well.
It’s no secret that cell phones and social media have taken over the minds of not just youth, but the entire world. In a way, they’re crucial to our survival, or perhaps just crucial to an extremely comfortable way of living. People obviously were able to exist and thrive prior to their invention, but the filmmakers seem acutely aware of the fact that it’s a complex relationship to be looked at. It’s not as simple as shutting your phone off and living your life, but a complete alteration in how day to day manners get achieved, as well as gathering knowledge to some capacity. This is all to say that Save Yourselves! doesn’t criticize its characters for their reliance on technology, but does make a point to show that things can be achieved without it.
Save Yourselves! is a fun, creative and refreshing film about the apocalypse. There’s no way around that fact, and in a year that surely feels like everything else is falling apart at a rapid pace, something like this film is necessary. It’s a fun form of escapism, but not one that entirely lets the viewer off the hook of self-reflection. If aliens arrive tomorrow, what will happen? What will we do? Who will we call? Perhaps most importantly, what are we going to look up in terms of survival tactics? Hopefully you have access to a phone, because if not, save yourselves!
Bleecker Street will release Save Yourselves! in select theaters nationwide on October 2nd and on digital VOD October 6th.