Blu-ray Review: SAVE YOURSELVES!

Oct 20 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Thirty-somethings Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Reynolds) are stuck in a bit of a rut in their relationship. They’ve become content with their laziness, and too distracted by their electronic devices. Whenever they try to spend time together, they often end up buried in their phones or laptops, and not actually talking with one another. Jack and Su are technically adults, but neither of them has any real career aspirations, or even a proper job with benefits. Su works as an assistant to an awful boss, and Jack, well, he has harvested some bitcoin. Jack and Su have never really discussed what their future looks like, or if they want to start a family. Whenever the topic comes up, it’s quickly pushed aside. They live together, but their relationship has become more of just going through the motions. So, in order to break from this cycle, Jack and Su decide to disconnect from their devices and the rest of the world for a week, in hopes that they can reconnect with one another. They power off their phones and laptops, and leave their Brooklyn apartment behind, heading to a friend’s upstate cabin in the woods. However, Jack and Su have literally chosen the worst possible time to go off the grid—unbeknownst to them, aliens have invaded, and humankind is about to lose planet Earth for good!

While Jack and Su are busy making progress rekindling their relationship, they are oblivious to what’s happening outside of their world. News reports go unwatched, and family and friends attempting to warn or check in on the couple are just sent to voicemail. There are some clues that things may not be quite right, but Jack and Su don’t seem to pick up on them. When they hear gunshots, they assume it must be hunting season. And as they marvel at the beautiful shooting stars they see from their campfire, they don’t realize that these are are actually aliens spaceships. It’s not until several days into their retreat that Jack and Su finally discover the truth—that fluffy pouffe-like aliens have invaded the planet and are killing off the humans…and one may be in the cabin with them right now! This sends Jack and Su into a panicked frenzy as they to figure out their next move, but these two aren’t very good at executing and sticking to a plan. Where can they go to get away from these creatures, and how can they defend themselves?! With a lack of any useful skills, Jack and Su will need to do some adulting and quickly learn to become more responsible if they want to have any hope of survival!

Save Yourselves! is more comedy than horror. The Tribble-like aliens are deadly, and do kill people, but these deaths are primarily played for laughs rather than scares. A lot of the humor also comes from just how blissfully ignorant this couple is as the alien invasion is happening, and how willfully unprepared and incapable they are when it comes to saving themselves—if Jack and Su do manage to survive, it will be out of sheer dumb luck. Stars John Reynolds (Search Party, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Stranger Things) and Sunita Mani (GLOW, No Activity, Mr. Robot) have really great chemistry, and play off of one another in such a way that feels quite natural, as though they were a real couple. At the same time there were aspects of these characters’ personalities that I found a bit off-putting (and not just Jack’s ridiculous mustache). Jack and Su are quite clueless at times about the world in general. While this does lead to some funny moments, it can also be a bit frustrating and exhausting. Once Jack and Sue are aware of their situation, there is a lot more physical humor in the movie as well, as they comically and desperately try to protect themselves from these seemingly harmless-looking deadly fuzzballs. In their attempt to get away from the aliens, the couple find themselves in an unexpected situation that not only brings in a new comedic situation, but also forces them to confront an aspect of their relationship that they had been avoiding.

The film takes a while to get to the point where Jack and Su are finally living up to the title and trying to save themselves. The first act of the film is a lot of banter (or lack there-of) between Jack and Su. Whether they are in their apartment, or at a bachelor party for some friends, any discussions tend to be about the most random topics. This gives the viewer a sense of how odd and disconnected these two are from both each other and reality in general. There are many jokes early on that allude to the situation that is to come, such as Jack making a comment about how some event is “not the end of the world”, and so on. Once Jack and Su get to the cabin, there are more odd discussions as they miss their devices and try to fill the time by talking to one another. This banter often feels like improv—either that or there’s just a very natural (but bizarre) aspect to the writing. When the couple finally makes first contact, that is when things kick into a higher gear, and the humor gets more physical.

Save Yourselves! may be a low budget independent film, but it never feels that way, especially regarding the effects. The filmmakers have found creative ways and filming techniques to bring the alien creatures to life, making them feel not only real and deadly, but also ridiculous and funny at the same time. The filmmakers utilize the familiar horror film device of less is more, playfully and gradually revealing the creatures to the viewer. At first we just get quick glimpses and hints towards the creatures’ presence, and it’s not really clear as to their motives or how they are killing their victims. But then we get to see the surprising yet funny nature of these pouffes, and Jack and Su’s hilarious reaction to the situation.

While I loved the concept of this film, I was a bit underwhelmed by its execution. The film felt a little middle of the road. It wasn’t scary enough to be a horror movie, and the comedy never reached that laugh-out-loud level for me. I think the film takes a bit too long to get to the crux of the plot, with a little too much banter (though I did enjoy the Sean Connery jokes). There were other physical jokes that they seemed to go back to the well a bit to often, such as this running gag that Jack experiences night terrors if he drinks too much—it was a little too over-the-top and over-acted. I also wasn’t really a fan of the ending, which had a lack of resolution. That said, I did think the film had its moments, and I generally enjoyed the characters and situations. Even if some of the comedy didn’t quite work for me, it will likely resonate more with those who enjoy that kind of slacker/stoner humor.

On a final note, for those who plan to watch this film, I would suggest you take a page out of Jack and Su’s book and disconnect while you watch. Early on in the film, the characters are talking about all their connected gadgets, and in the process ended up activating the Echo Dot in my living room several times—I had to pause the movie and ask Alexa to stop playing music on more than one occasion! Jack and Su play these games with Google and Siri, but fortunately those devices never activated for me. The writers/directors joke about this part of the movie in the disc’s audio commentary.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The picture was clean, with a nice level of detail throughout, and the alien creature effects feel very believable, even if they are a bit ridiculous at times. This is a very dialogue-heavy movie, and the audio track presents this clearly, while also utilizing the stereo and surround channels as needed to provide some more-immersive moments. The Blu-ray comes packed in a standard HD keepcase with a slipcover and includes a slip with redemption instructions for an HD Movies Anywhere-compatible digital copy of the film, plus a bonus Universal All-Access Rewards points code that can be used for a free digital movie or towards other rewards. The disc includes an audio commentary by the writers/directors as well as some deleted scenes and a gag reel. There is an additional bonus feature on the digital copy that gives a behind-the-scenes look at bringing the creatures to life.

What’s Included:

Film: (1:33:56)

The availability of the digital bonus material varies by retailer.

  • On Disc & Digital:
    • Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:31)
      Collection of six deleted/extended scenes (some are really short). Play all or select from:

      • Great Hill (1:29) Su and Jack talk while hiking through the woods, Jack is trying to remember a quote about hills.
      • No Phones, No Laptops (:37) Jack and Su set the ground rules for their trip.
      • Ribbit (:33) Jack and Su make frog sounds.
      • Shave Ourselves Extended (3:36) Jack and Su discuss what they are going to do with their lives if they are able to “shave themselves” and win their lack of skills.
      • Scoop of Ice Cream (:53) More bar Talk improv about how to say the word “scoop”l playing instruments as kids, and hamsters.
      • Grapes (:23) Several takes of Su throwing food for Jack to catch in his mouth.
    • Blooper Reel (5:50)
      Collection of alternate takes, flubs, falling mics, pouffe mishaps, the actors cracking up and having fun on set, and more.
    • Feature Commentary with Director/Writer Alex Huston Fischer and Director/Writer Eleanor Wilson (1:33:56)
      The writers/directors provide some insight into the making of the film, discussing topics such as reshoots, the mustache, the production’s green initiatives, the film’s score, the special effects and creating the pouffes, the use of improv, how the film messes with the viewer’s smart assistants (it did!), creating the wardrobe and including custom non-copyrighted logos, the Sean Connery jokes, and more.
  • Digital Exclusive:
    • POUFFE! The Visual Effects Magic of SAVE YOURSELVES! (3:22)
      The filmmakers discuss what a Pouffe is, developing the design and look of the creatures, the practical effects used to bring the aliens to life, and filming the final pod sequence. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with writers/directors Alex Fischer & Eleanor Wilson, production designer Katie Fleming, special effects supervisor Calder Greenwood, director of photography Matt Clegg, visual effects supervisor Jeff Desom, and supervising sound editor Tim Korn.


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Worth a Look

Save Yourselves! starts off with an excellent concept, but falters a bit in its execution, taking a little too much time to get to the core of the film. The main cast is a lot of fun, and have excellent chemistry. There are some very humorous moments, especially once this clueless couple finally realizes what’s going on—and now must deal with these cute but deadly creatures while also reluctantly learning to become responsible adults. Universal’s Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good, and includes a nice assortment of bonus material (though one of the featurettes is only available via the included digital copy). Some of the humor may be a bit subjective, but I still think the film is worth a look.

Get it on Apple TV