“The carnage is creative and unflinching!”
Produced by WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and starring Luke Evans, No One Lives begins rather ambiguously and manages to develop tension within the first fifteen minutes or so. A couple arrive at a motel and decide to go out for a steak, but as luck would have it, they happen to pick the one place in town where a gang of psychopaths have also decided to dine. In the style of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of 1000 Corpses, the antagonistic band of highway killers, seen indiscriminately murdering just moments before, congregate as a family and upon seeing the couple who enter, they relish an opportunity to intimidate and bully them for fun.
However, on this occasion they pick the wrong guy to mess with. The nameless protagonist (Evans) is a man with a secret that eventually makes the highway crazies wish they’d left him and his gal well alone.
Unfortunately, this is where the tension abruptly dies and is replaced with some rather impressive scenes of gore and violence. Plenty of bloodshed ensues and this, along with the moody character portrayal by Luke Evans, is by far the best feature of what would have otherwise been a very average modern slasher. While the carnage is creative and unflinching, it is undermined by the cartoonish lack of realism, and while one would argue that a film of this nature isn’t intended to be viewed as a realistic piece, it should also be noted that the overemphasis on ultra-violence detracts from any scares or dread it could have otherwise built. At one point two characters begin to fight, but even this over-the-top scuffle becomes like a choreographed wrestling match, which was possibly intended due to the company that produced the film, and comes across as desperately impractical.
The acting, aside from Luke Evans who gives a stellar performance and possibly takes the role too seriously – which is a good thing, is average. The supporting cast have no discernible traits that would make viewers either care or take interest in them, and they are instead simply fodder for the death scenes. The narrative offers a twist here and there, though even these won’t be enough to make you gasp when compared with the likes of Seven and the original Saw.
No One Lives isn’t a bad film, it’s just typically average. You won’t find anything scary within the 90 minutes or so of viewing, but you might have a good laugh with some friends.
Ryûhei Kitamura, known for Midnight Meat Train and Versus, returns with one of the most entertaining psycho films ever committed to celluloid. A young couple are set upon by a gang of armed robbers, but what they don’t realise is that the male of the couple (known only as ‘Driver’) is the psychopath responsible for the murder of fourteen students months earlier. Luke Evans puts in a magnificent turn as the emotionless maniac, and Derek Magyar is equally as entertaining as the maverick robber intent on putting an end to him. What you get is a game of cat-and-mouse to the Nth degree, and lots of surprises. As stylish as it is brutal, No One Lives should be in everyone’s collection.
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Luke Evans, Gary Grubbs, Adelaide Clemens
Running time: 88 minutes
FrightFest Screening: 24 August 2013
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