Self Reliance
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJake Johnson
Written byJake Johnson
Produced by
  • Jake Johnson
  • Ali Bell
  • Joe Hardesty
CinematographyAdam Silver
Edited byRyan Brown
Music byDan Romer
Distributed by
Release dates
  • March 11, 2023 (2023-03-11) (SXSW)
  • January 3, 2024 (2024-01-03) (United States)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

Self Reliance is a 2023 American comedy thriller film written, directed by and starring Jake Johnson in his feature length directorial debut. It also stars Anna Kendrick, Natalie Morales, Mary Holland, Emily Hampshire, and Christopher Lloyd.

The film premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) on March 11, 2023, and was released theatrically in the United States in a one-night special engagement on January 3, 2024, by Neon, followed by a streaming release on Hulu on January 12, 2024.


In Los Angeles, a disillusioned man receives an invitation to win $1 million by taking part in a reality television game on the dark web. For 30 days, he must outwit hunters attempting to kill him. He realizes there's a loophole to the game – the hunters can only attack him when he's alone – so he attempts to convince friends, family and total strangers that the game is real, and that they must stay with him 24/7.[2][3]



The film was produced by MRC Film.[4] Johnson had first pitched the idea to Netflix in 2017. His original title for it was DOG ("delusions of grandeur"), and he likened it to "Jacob's Ladder meets Bottle Rocket". He wrote the screenplay during the COVID-19 pandemic.[5] Filming took place over 19 days in Los Angeles.[3] The film was scored by Dan Romer.[6]


The film premiered at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 11, 2023.[7] In June 2023, Hulu acquired the U.S. distribution rights to the film in a deal with co-financier MRC and Paramount Global Content Distribution, setting it for a streaming release on September 8, 2023.[8] In August 2023, it was reported that the release had been pushed back to that November.[9] The film was released by Hulu on January 12, 2024.[10] Neon partnered with AMC Theatres for a limited theatrical release of the film preceding its streaming release. The film was screened for a single night on January 3, 2024 across 225 theatres in the United States and also featured a behind-the-scenes discussion between Johnson and Lamorne Morris.[11]


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of 48 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "Debuting director Jake Johnson acquits himself admirably with Self Reliance, a unique comedy-thriller hybrid that does a generally effective job of balancing silly and sincere."[12] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 60 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[13]

Peter Debruge of Variety described the film as a "silly and frequently surprising why-we-need-people parable".[14]


  1. ^ "Self Reliance (15)". BBFC. September 8, 2023. Retrieved January 15, 2024.
  2. ^ Anderton, Joe (January 15, 2023). "First look at New Girl's Jake Johnson in new movie Self Reliance". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on March 12, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Galuppo, Mia (March 17, 2023). "Jake Johnson Asked Friends to Be Brutally Honest About Directorial Debut 'Self Reliance'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023. Retrieved July 7, 2023.
  4. ^ Welk, Brian (March 2, 2023). "After Selling 'Poker Face' and 'Fair Play,' Scott Tenley Named New MRC CEO". IndieWire. Archived from the original on March 8, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Matthew (March 11, 2023). "Jake Johnson Turned an Existential Crisis Into His Directorial Debut". Vulture. Archived from the original on March 12, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  6. ^ "Dan Romer scoring Jake Johnson film Self Reliance". Film Music Reporter. January 11, 2023. Archived from the original on January 20, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  7. ^ Kay, Jeremy (March 10, 2023). "15 acquisition titles to tempt buyers at SXSW 2023". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on March 11, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  8. ^ Gajewski, Ryan (June 29, 2023). "Jake Johnson's Directorial Debut 'Self Reliance' Lands at Hulu". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 29, 2023. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  9. ^ Klawans, Justin (August 23, 2023). "Jake Johnson's Directorial Debut 'Self Reliance' Pushes Premiere Window Back 2 Months". Collider. Archived from the original on September 4, 2023. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  10. ^ Complex, Valerie (December 5, 2023). "Self Reliance Trailer: Comedy Thriller From Jake Johnson To Debut Exclusively On Hulu In January". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  11. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 20, 2023). "Neon To Release Jake Johnson's 'Self Reliance' In Theaters For One Night Only Before Hulu Run". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 21, 2023.
  12. ^ "Self Reliance". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 11, 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  13. ^ "Self Reliance". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  14. ^ Debruge, Peter (March 11, 2023). "'Self Reliance' Review: Jake Johnson's Off-the-Wall Feature Debut Makes the Case for Human Connection". Variety. Archived from the original on March 12, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.