Review by Sean Boelman
When Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson’s sci-fi satire Save Yourselves! debuted at Sundance this year, it was probably an incredibly timely commentary on what our society was going through at the moment. But even in the past three-quarters of a year, things have changed, making this feel a bit outdated even now.
The film follows a young couple who, seeking a repose from the stress of their daily lives, decides to unplug and take a retreat to a remote cabin, only for the world to come crashing down around them without their knowledge. It’s an interesting premise, and Fischer and Wilson do use it to say something, but that message may not ring as true as they would have hoped.
Our society is increasingly interconnected and dependent on technology to operate on a daily basis. And while yes, a lot of people would be helplessly lost without these tools at their disposal, which is what this movie seems to be poking fun at, if these past nine months have shown us anything, it is that we are much more informed thanks to this widely available information.
That said, the film also suffers from some other issues, perhaps the most pivotal of which is its character development. The audience is supposed to buy into the fact that this unplugged retreat is an attempt to save a failing relationship. Their struggles are somewhat relatable, but their arc is just too generic to be very compelling.
Sunita Mani and John Reynolds do have solid chemistry together, but they’re doing the same schtick for a majority of the movie’s hour-and-a-half-plus runtime. At a certain point, it begins to feel old and one wishes that the script demanded more range out of them than for them to be whiny the whole time.
There are definitely some very funny moments throughout, but the film almost works better as a thriller than a comedy. The silly shock value is definitely quite entertaining, but the movie is at its best when the characters aren’t aware and there is the element of anxiety and the unknown at play. When things begin to fall into place, it also starts to lose its appeal.
On a technical level, the film is pretty solid, especially given the fact that it is indie sci-fi. The creature design for the pouffes is pretty ingenious and provides for many of the best moments in the movie. And as a whole, the visual style has a definite level of quirkiness to it that goes a long way in making the tone work better.
Save Yourselves! likely played better before a pandemic made us realize that our dependence on technology may not be so toxic after all. Still, there are some entertaining moments to be found here, so it’s worth a watch regardless.
Save Yourselves! is now playing in theaters and hits VOD on October 6.