By Nadia Dalimonte
Sunita Mani and John Paul Reynolds in Save Yourselves! (2020)
Our compulsion for social media has perhaps never been as potent as it is today. The increasing dependency on the internet, especially during a time of uncertainty, is a running theme in the apocalyptic horror-comedy Save Yourselves!. The film is about a young couple, Su and Jack, who pledge to disconnect from technology for a week in order to reconnect with each other. Cut off from all devices, they miss the news of fuzzy murderous aliens (also known as “poofs”) invading earth. Save Yourselves! is an enjoyable, funny look at a totally unassuming couple dealing with sudden chaos while learning more about who they are beyond a screen.
The most resonating aspect about the film is how Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Paul Reynolds) try to position themselves in an unexpected situation. Both characters are anxious about getting older, and want to accomplish something in life beyond their typical daily schedules. They decide to stay at a remote cabin (belonging to a friend’s grandfather) not just to escape from the outside world, but also to let their brain chemistry sort itself out. They are being put to the test as they strive to be their authentic selves. Su and Jack essentially stumble their way through the apocalypse, making some questionable choices and some smart ones, trying to follow plans but mostly acting on a whim. It’s refreshing to watch more realistic characters in this threatening scenario, who admittedly don’t have the “real world” skills to know what they’re supposed to do at any given moment.
Writer-directors Eleanor Wilson and Alex Huston Fischer do a great job of introducing the threat, first playing as comical until we see just how scary and deadly these fuzzy poofs actually are. When a poof finds Su and Jack in the cabin, they are forced to fight back, and the chase leads them from one hiding spot to the next. Eventually they find themselves on the run in the woods, where they discover the terrifying way that the aliens claim victims. Stuck in a matter of life and death, the stakes are high for the characters and their relationship.
The film maintains a mostly entertaining energy throughout, and narrowly avoids overstaying its welcome in large part thanks to an incredibly strong lead. Sunita Mani’s performance as Su is one of the biggest highlights of the film. Her timing is spot on, her charisma is off the charts, and she has such wonderful screen presence that a series of her fighting off aliens would be a welcome idea. Her on-screen partner, John Paul Reynolds, is more erratic given his character, but he has great chemistry with Mani. Together they (more so Mani) elevate a story that relies on the company it keeps in the two lead characters. The film stumbles a bit in the final act, with an ending that doesn’t click as much as desired, but Save Yourselves! is certainly a refreshing addition to the horror-comedy genre.