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No One Will Save You

Mad Meg VS the Alien Legions: An Esoteric Interpretation of “No One Will Save You”

Knock on any door

Down in that old hometown of mine

Knock on any door

You’ll find a welcome, rain or shine

Knock on Any Door (Ruby Murray)

In this age in which big movie studios are afraid to try different things and instead stick to cookie cutter narratives, it is refreshing to stumble upon a little gem like No One Will Save You (2023). With its simple story, straight-to-business approach and creative treatment —the movie is almost entirely devoid of dialog, which manages to work surprisingly well for a 93-minute motion picture— the film brings a new spin to a genre (the “alien invasion”) that has been exploited ad-nauseam by Hollywood blockbusters for the last two decades, and even before Independence Day established it as a reliable cash cow (for a comprehensive study of how the film industry has made use of the UFO topic for financial gain, get yourself a copy of Silver Screen Saucers by the late Robbie Graham).

But perhaps the reason NOWSY doesn’t feel like your typical alien movie is because deep down it aligns more with the “supernatural/horror” category, and effectively grabs from it elements and settings to the point that —in my own personal opinion, which I intend to discuss in this article— the movie is better understood as a story of demonic infestation (although not in the traditional Judeo-Christian sense) rather than one of interplanetary conflagration.

[If you haven’t watched the movie yet, I strongly advised you to stop reading this until you do, because the next paragraphs will bring major spoilers by deconstructing the scenes and review them from a paranormal perspective]

We should probably start by presenting the painting below as the main framework by which we will analyze NOWSY: De Dulle Griet (Anglicized as Dull Gret) also known as Mad Meg, is a superb example of Flemish renaissance art painted by Pieter Bruegel “the Elder” in 1563.

Right now, you might be thinking: “What the hell does an old Flemish painting have to do with an alien/horror film anyway?” Plenty, as it turns out, once you manage to learn what this artwork is trying to depict…

Wikipedia explains to us that Dulle Griet (the female figure at the center forefront of the composition) is a virago, a woman who demonstrates abundant masculine virtues, leading an army of women to pillage the fiery realms of Hell. The term virago is meant to be pejorative hence why the artist depicts Mad Meg in a rather farcical manner, armed with a sword and improbable kitchen utensils, and she is meant to symbolize the old Flemish proverb “She could plunder in front of hell and return unscathed.”

In the view of Max Seidel, Roger H. Marijnissen in their book ‘Bruegel. Pt.2’, Bruegel is making fun of noisy, aggressive women. At the same time he castigates the sin of covetousness: although already burdened down with possessions, Griet and her grotesque companions are prepared to storm the mouth of Hell itself in their search for more.[7] It might also refer to something that is either stupid, or courageous, or both; implying that one who is dull or naive may have more courage and end up in trouble, though not succumbing but making the best of it. Could symbolize a woman defying hell and returning with treasure, a psychological analogy of working through troubles to become stronger and wiser; to enter into one’s personal hell and overcome one’s “demons” i.e. fears or trauma. Yet, the opinions may differ and are subjective.

Griet was a disparaging name given to any bad-tempered, shrewish woman. In an incisive historical and critical interpretation of the painting, Margaret Sullivan concludes that in it Bruegel allegorizes the ideological zeitgeist’s “madness and folly.” She notes that “in the sixteenth century ‘dulle’ had two meanings. The first was ‘mad’ and the second (and older) meaning was ‘foolish’ or ‘stupid.’ ‘Griet’ as a female name communicated the idea of a fool. . . The name Margaret and its variants Margot, Magrite, Greta, Griet, etc., seemed to have acquired pejorative connotations throughout Northern Europe, making it an especially appropriate choice for the painting.”[8]

Dulle Griet appears as a character in Caryl Churchill’s play Top Girls (1982), where she recounts her invasion of Hell: “I’d had enough, I was mad, I hate the bastards. I come out my front door that morning and shout till my neighbors come out and I said, ‘Come on, we’re going where the evil come from and pay the bastards out.'”


(Feisty and bad-tempered. Keep that in mind…)

Now let’s begin to look at NOWSY, which starts by showing us the main character, Brynn (which to me sounds an awful lot like ‘Brimstone’ but in reality it is a gender-neutral name of Welsh origin meaning “hill”. “Taking to the nature-inspired character of their name, no mountain will be too big for this little one to conquer” [Source]. Brynn is also similar to ‘Brine’ which is a strong concentration of salt, a powerful weapon against unholy spirits). She is a young woman who lives all alone in an old house in the outskirts of a small town (we later learn she inherited it from her mother) and makes a living as a seamstress —to be called a ‘spindler’ in older times was to be a woman who would never marry and die single. We should also recall how tradition situated the ‘old crones’ as being outsiders living at the edge of the village.

Although Brynn is no old witch, she’s definitely an outsider. Her outdated fashion style and tastes are meant to symbolize a somewhat romantically feisty, independent nature (someone who goes against the status quo and consensual values). And the palette of colors in her house immediately reminisces us to movies from the 1970s; not just Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, which the movie plays heavy homage to (in a good way) but also The Exorcist —her light blue night gown is a direct reference to Regan’s in William Friedkin’s 1973 classic.

And it’s not just the gown. The ‘attack’ from the first entity she confronts —which incidentally appears after what sounds like chimes or a ringing bell, a characteristic my colleague Joshua Cutchin pointed out in private to be conforming to the writings of Raymond Fowler, and the tradition of the arrival of supernatural entities being announced by particular sounds—primarily involves telekinesis and electromagnetic disturbances, which have all the earmarks of poltergeist activity; phenomena which, incidentally, is often documented (but downplayed) in close encounter cases found in UFO literature.

The point of the matter is that this ‘invasion’ is curiously devoid of any ‘advanced’ technology —the number one advantage ETs would have against us— displayed by these so-called aliens. Even the tribal Predators in the popular movie franchise still indulge in a few hi-tech gizmos (like cloaking devices and automatic targeting) when taking down their prey.

In NOWSY the only major display of apparent alien technology come from the disk-like craft invading Brynn’s night-sky town, but even these are not your typical “ET spaceships” adorned by myriads of portholes and spotlights a-la Spielberg; their stark concentric appearance, in fact, seems to reminisce the “inner circles of Hell” (although inverted, since they come from above instead of down below) which became part of Judeo-Christian religiosity thanks to Dante Alighieri. The ‘craft’ do possess antigravity capabilities (what sci-fi nerds would call a ‘tractor beam’) but why should we be forced to interpret that as a sign of advance science, when horror flicks resort to the same tricks (which are direct references to real-life cases, we should point out) as a sign of supernatural intervention?

These ‘tractor beams’ also curiously leave distinct marks on the ground which would not only refer to us to the ancient folklore of fairy rings, but their imperfect imprint also seem to resemble a horseshoe instead of a perfect circle. Here we should be reminded of the legends of the Jersey Devil, in which townsfolk found ‘impossible’ horseshoe imprints on the ground and even climbing onto walls.

As stated above, the NOWSY assailants attack Brynn not with laser guns or jetpacks —as any respectful alien overlords should— but with psychic abilities or plain claws (just like demons in cases of possession). One of the few extraterrestrial invaders portrayed in cinema who only resort to their physical prowess to beat humans are the Aliens from the Riddley Scott-started franchise, and those are supposed to be animalistic drones devoid of higher cognition. Some of the beings in NOWSY seem to fit that bill though, like the small goblin or the giant mantis-like entity which Brynn eventually defeat using nothing more than wits and courage (or is it bad temper?) while wielding regular kitchen appliances (just like Griet/Meg in Bruegel’s painting). These creatures, like any UFO buff worth their tinfoil hat should know, are directly extracted from actual CE-3 cases, despite the fact that modern culture chooses to highlight the stereotypical spindly gray alien as the go-to frame for otherworldly intelligence.

Getting back to the gray aliens —which are portrayed not only as naked as their more feral companions but also emaciated and looking like ghouls, just like the demons tormenting saints and common folk in medieval paintings— it is interesting to note how Brynn manages to take down the first one who breaks into her house, by stabbing its neck with a miniature model bell tower (Ouch!). Churches and other religious temples around the world employed bells and other musical instruments like horns not just to alert the faithful about incoming ceremonies, but also to ward off evil spirits.

Despite their psychic abilities the aliens are not traditionally telepathic, and from time to time they howl thunderous bellows, which immediately should bring to mind the book of Revelation:

“The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire mixed with blood appeared, and was thrown down to the earth…”

Not all of the action in the movie happens in Brynn’s house, of course, and there are brief glimpses of how the events affecting her are dramatically changing the rest of the world. In one scene Brynn watches her neighbors grotesquely immobilized and looking up to the sky, which reminded me of those unexplained Medieval cases of ‘dancing plague’ —which were coincidentally (?) also portrayed by the artist Peter Bruegel.

Just like in The Exorcist, we are also confronted with the danger of ‘possession’ although in this case it is shown to be more ‘parasitic’ than spiritual in nature. Here the movie seems to play homage to the relatively obscure (yet hugely influential) TV series from the 1990s Dark Skies, which in spite of not being as successful as The X-Files still managed to break ground by way of creating a sort of ‘secret history’ by combining fiction with real historical facts.

The very title of the movie refers to the issue of ‘Salvation’, which we could initially confuse with the concept of ‘physical’ salvation at the face of menacing non-human entities, but as the story progresses we realize Brynn is carrying with her a heavy burden of guilt for a terrible act —a sin— she committed when she was younger. We slowly learn about this despicable deed when Brynn reluctantly visits the tomb of Maude, her best friend from childhood (this after she fails to find refuge in the town’s church, perhaps a symbol of her out-of-grace state).

There is a point in the story when she seems to be offered expiation from this sin she committed when her virago-like bad temper got the best of her, but she inevitably rejects this fake reality scenario; perhaps because she knows atonement is meaningless without contrition (feeling true remorse for one’s sin).

After M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs came out, there were some people who suggested the movie made a whole lot more of sense if you thought the scary reptilian creatures were demons instead of aliens (there are scores of websites and blogs devoted to this thesis). Readers of this analysis may be tempted to conclude I am falling into the same logical trap. And to be fair there are segments in the UFO/paranormal sphere who like to use the “everything is demons” catch-all for everything that defies a simple explanation, as my friend Seriah Azkath is fond to bring up in his show Where Did the Road Go?

I admit this article could paint me as a religious nut in the eyes of those who don’t know me better, yet I dare anyone of my readers to rewatch No One Will Save You and pay attention to the things I have pointed out in the paragraphs above, and you will see this at least brings a new light to a movie that evidently goes against the grain of the “alien invasion” Sci-Fi genre.

I also think these ‘demons’ (for lack of a better term) are closer to the interpretation of Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart’s teachings than that of the popular (Judeo-Christian) theology. I first came into contact with Eckhart through Whitley Strieber’s books when I was in my teens, and it’s curious how a few years later another brilliant esoteric movie —Jacob’s Ladder (1990)— tried to bring his philosophy to the attention of moviegoers: Demons torment you when you cling to your older life, but when you accept your fate and let go then demons turn into angels, and usher you into paradise.

In a rather Eckhartian way, when all seemed lost for Brynn during the climax of the movie (“Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter”) she is forced to finally face her own personal demons by admitting the guilt of having committed fratricide (just like Cain) when she killed in anger Maude, the girl who was like a sister to her.

At that moment of Judgment the alien/demons are shown almost as angels conferencing with a higher authority than them (shown as a “Big Eye” up above) and ultimately delivering Brynn into a paradisical New World where the eschatological promise of the Book of Revelation seems to be divinely fulfilled.

…Or maybe she’s finally in Hell, yet it’s not as bad as they have warned us. Especially if you are a feisty virago who knows how to fend for yourself!

No One Will Save You was directed, written, and produced by Brian Duffield and is a Hulu original film.

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