SAVE YOURSELVES! is the latest film from writer/director duo Alex H. Fischer & Eleanor Wilson which centers around a couple who go off the grid at the same time a pouff invasion takes place. The film stars Sunita Mani (“GLOW”, Evil Eye), John Paul Reynolds (“Stranger Things”), Ben Sinclair (“High Maintenance”), and John Early (“Search Party”).
To best describe the plot of the film, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “Jack (John Paul Reynolds) and Su (Sunita Mani) are a hip Brooklyn couple who, like many of their friends, find themselves dependent on technology and unable to put down their phones. Fearing their mindless scrolling may impact their connection with each other, they seize the chance to head to an isolated cabin in the woods, vowing to unplug from the outside world for a week. Sheltered from texts and push notifications, they are blissfully unaware that the planet is under attack. As strange events unfold, the couple must figure out a way back to civilization – or what’s left of it.”
It’s safe to say that out of all the films I’ve watched this year, SAVE YOURSELVES! remains my favorite horror/comedy of the year. It’s genuine in its depiction of relationship strife as well as how we, as a society, are becoming more and more dependent on electronics. Also add in a creature that is both adorable and deadly, a random baby rescue, and an entertaining yet impactful story, and you got yourself one of the best films of the year.
The film opens with our introduction to Su and Jack, a millennial couple that rely heavily on their electronic devices. One night they decide to go out for a friend’s engagement party and while there, they bump into their old friend Raph (Ben Sinclair). After striking up a conversation about his time off-grid in Nicaragua, they decide to take him up on his offer to stay at his remote cabin and become more in touch with their surroundings (and less with their phones). While getting used to the quiet, isolated location, as well as spending quality time together that, at times, is filled with tension, the couple is oblivious to the horrors taking place just outside their door. One day, they notice a piece of furniture, in the form of a pouf, that they could have sworn wasn’t there when they arrived. Shortly after a big fight erupts, Su checks her phone and learns that there are pouffes who have taken over New York as well as the rest of the world and they look suspiciously like the mysterious pouf inside their cabin. This leads the couple on a wild adventure where they must work together in order to survive the precarious situation they have found themselves in.
What makes this film so special are the performances from our two leads. Sunita Mani and John Paul Reynolds are charismatic and hilarious bringing forth a comedic element and charm to their respective characters. What I found to be so impressive about their performances was how natural their interactions with one another felt. The script calls for these characters to act like any of us would in a distressing situation such as this. Whether it’s by forming a last-minute game plan or grabbing the nearest item for protection, Sunita and John never bring their performance to an exaggerated crescendo of chaos but instead choose to ride that fine line between overwhelming fear and sturdy calmness.
As for the presentation of the film, it’s rather straightforward, relying on the remote area of the cabin to dictate how the events unfold for our protagonist. Co-Directors Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson never venture into over-the-top special effects, instead using them sparingly so that the audience is more focused on the story and performances at hand. Even when it came to the creature design, it was done in a simplistic fashion that will appeal to many of us who love creepy cute things. Most of the film takes place inside the confines of the house and its perimeter, though there is a scene that unfolds in the woods while they are attempting to escape that takes our couple on a psychedelic journey. The dizzying camera work and soft color palette really helped amplify this scene and set it apart from the rest of the film.
As entertaining as SAVE YOURSELVES! is, the importance of the themes isn’t lost on the viewer. We could talk all day about the effects of electronics on our mental health but I think it’s important to make note that we are living in a time where maybe it’s GOOD to be taking lots of breaks from it. There are even a few scenes that display how Su is trying to use advice from the internet to grow closer to Jack, instead of just communicating with him. I also think it was important that the film took the time to present an arc that focused on gender reversal roles. Though both characters have their moments in the spotlight, I think seeing Jack struggle with what his family defines as a “man” was really important, especially for men who are on the more sensitive side. There is no definition of what a man is supposed to be and I think the more that we see that in entertainment, the better it’ll be for everyone to accept.
Overall, SAVE YOURSELVES! is a movie that will make viewers laugh while also showcasing how we use electronics to hide from our own personal baggage. Fischer and Wilson expertly wrote a script that is relevant to most of everyone’s lives right now while still keeping the topic fresh and fun. With all the chaos going on in the world, this film really helped me escape it and I hope that it has the same effect on viewers who check it out. SAVE YOURSELVES! is now available on blank and blank.
SAVE YOURSELVES! is in theaters nationwide as well as on Digital.