“Save Yourselves” is a blend of indie relationship comedy, social commentary, and sci-fi/horror that is a unique and quirky little pleasure to help get you through the chaotic year that is 2020. As Kyoshi Kurosawa did so well in his prophetic 2001 Japanese horror film “Kairo” (“Pulse”), this film warns against the dangers of disconnecting; from the world, from our families, and from ourselves. Too much internet, for whatever the reason, causes us to lose the real-world connections that are so important to us as human beings.
Su and Jack are the clichéd modern New York couple. They ignore the pressures of their daily city-dwelling lives by retreating into their phones and computers, immersing themselves into the endless lonely highways of the internet. When the two come to the realization that it is time to disconnect from being disconnected, they decided to get away to a cabin that a friend has offered them to use for a couple of weeks.
Their timing and luck could not be worse. The exact day they decide to drop out of all technology for a couple of weeks is the same day the Earth is attacked by an alien life force. Oops! (bad timing, to say the least).
What follows is a witty take on both staying connected to one’s humanity in a digital-is-king world and learning to make a relationship work through mutual compromise and respect.
Writer/directors Elanor Wilson and Alex Huston Fischer are less concerned with the science fiction and more focused on what their characters represent and the themes the film explores.
Sunita Mani and John Reynolds play Su and Jack, both giving witty performances. The two are purposeful caricatures but have distinct personalities that come out a bit more from scene to scene. As the two reveal more pieces of their personality to the audience, so do the characters to one another, as the invasion gets more intense and they are forced to deal with the realities of what is happening around them. It is time to look out instead of down.
Both Su and Jack have secretly taken their phones with them. We find out that Su checks hers every day when Jack is sleeping or in another room. One day she hears a message from her mother about a story she heard on Fox News about New York rats that are not rats but… Su ignores the message before it is revealed once her mother says it came from Fox.
In a very funny scene, Jack argues against using the gun, as he reminds his girlfriend that the two are both steadfastly anti-gun. Su helps him understand that when alien creatures are attacking is not the time to take a stance on the dangers of gun violence. The scene is a humorous jab at the gun-control debate and works well with the vibe of the film, as everything has a point and the whole piece is done with a proper sense of humor that comes out of the characters and their situations.
We only see the aliens a few times and they resemble oversized tribbles from the Star Trek TV series. Su and Jack refer to them as “poufs.” They also have long red tentacles that can kill but the otherworldly aspects of the film are not the point, as the sci-fi exists only to support the filmmaker’s intended themes. It takes a massive event that threatens all life on earth to make Su and Jack awake from their digital slumber and decide to get out and contribute to society while enriching their own lives and relationship.
Wilson and Fischer choose to end their film on an ambiguous note but, if the audience is giving their full attention (the film’s whole point!), they will experience a glimmer of hope and change for Su and Jack and, perhaps, for humanity itself.
With sly nods to Whitley Strieber’s novel “Communion” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the old sci-fi alien attack films of the fifties, “Save Yourselves” is a quite witty film that is a complete pleasure to watch. It is original and funny, and quite charming, too.