Sundance 2020: Save Yourselves!

Sunita Mani and John Reynolds appear in Save Yourselves! by Alex Fischer and Eleanor Wilson, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Matt Clegg.

What should be a relaxing trip to a cabin for a week without smart phones or the Internet becomes something completely different in Save Yourselves!

The film is a zany sci-fi comedy that has a lot to offer in terms of lessons.  For one, unplugging sounds like a great idea in theory.  Some of us unplug for 25 hours a week–myself included.  It’s a great way to escape from the troubles of the day.  But what happens when things go haywire and you have to fend for yourself?

After listening to their friend Raph (Ben Sinclair), both Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Reynolds) decide to spend a week in the woods.  It’s not just any particular week in the woods but one in which they unplug from the world.  Again, great idea nobody could have predicted what would come next.  This is the beauty of watching Save Yourselves!  Su and Jack take in the scenery without the need for the Internet.  That’s not to say that Su didn’t attempt to bring it with her because she hand-writes a few things in her notebook before leaving.

While they are oblivious to their surroundings, things have only gotten crazy in New York with aliens invading the city.  This is what happens when people decide to unplug their smart phones: aliens decide to attack!  The biggest source of nourishment just happens to be ethanol.  It’s only when they re-enter the real world ever so briefly that they realize aliens have attacked the planet.  Su and Jack are the last people in the world to be ready in this scenario.

“The world is fucked and we should stop pretending it’s not,” Su tells Jack at one point.

Su isn’t wrong.  There’s something–maybe even metaphorically–being said here about how we’re killing the planet.  At the same time, we’re so connected through social media that a basic hangout doesn’t come without pausing to check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  It’s going to be so ironic for someone to view this film on their tablet or smart phone for this reason.  We are obsessed.  Of course, I say this as a movie buff who has to check their email one last time at night before going to bed.

Aside from all the important stuff to take away from viewing the film, actor/comedian John Reynolds is leading material.  Both Reynolds and Sunita Mani knew each other from the comedy scene so their relationship in the film doesn’t come off as feeling forced.

This isn’t the first low-budget sci-fi comedy nor will it be the last.  The alien designs have to fit the film’s budget but they also have to look like they belong in a film.  On this, I give credit to the production team.

Save Yourselves! is the millennial survival sci-fi comedy that we never knew we needed.

DIRECTORS/SCREENWRITERS:  Alex Fischer & Eleanor Wilson
CAST:  Sunita Mani, John Reynolds, Ben Sinclair, John Early, Jo Firestone, Gary Richardson, Johanna Day, Zenobia Shroff, and Amy Sedaris

Save Yourselves! held its world premiere during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.