No One Lives


Reviewed by: David Graham

No One Lives
"Sealing the deal is a bravura turn from Evans, always charismatic but here downright deadly, acing his American accent and conveying ice-cold menace throughout."

A balls-to-the-wall horror-thriller with an almost Benny Hill level of irreverent lunacy at times, No One Lives sees Midnight Meat Train helmer Ryuhei Kitamura making a partial return to the crazed tone of his breakout hit Versus. It’s also a fantastic showcase for Brit star Luke Evans, whose ‘Driver’ anti-hero comes on like a torture-prawn Terminator with a twisted romantic streak. It’s gleefully lurid and shamelessly over-the-top, but also inventive and surprising enough to appeal to more than just the bloodhound target audience who will of course lap it up with relish.

When an unsuspecting couple on a cross-country trip are taken hostage by a gang of vicious criminals, tragedy ensues, but the male survivor manages to escape his captors and begins a campaign of vengeance. It turns out the thugs have something that he wants, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it back. With squabbling between nominal leader Hoag and loose cannon Flynn intensifying, the unit are picked off one by one in a variety of grisly ways, until the ‘Driver’ has to make a final decision as to how far to take this rampage of terror.

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With a few stealthy twists fleshed out by flashbacks that for once deepen the narrative and central characters (as far as they go, anyway), No-one Lives is a pleasurably slippery beast that throws up cathartic, visceral thrills at every blood-stained turn. Toying with the audience complicity that’s an integral part of slasher genre appreciation, Kitamura throws all caution to the wind with his delirious set-pieces, David Cohen’s deliberately cheesy script giving him a rogue’s gallery of reprehensible villains you can’t wait to see obliterated.

Doffing its cap to influences like Silence Of The Lambs and The Hitcher, the superficially formulaic massacre structure has enough of a subversive edge to keep even sceptical viewers on their toes. The cruel wit displayed aligns the film with Mario Bava’s original body count classic Bay Of Blood, while there’s an occasional unpredictability that’s almost Tarantino-esque in its brazen disregard for convention. The amoral mind-games alluded to in the Driver’s back-story also betray Clive Barker’s inspiration, whose twisted sense of avenging angels and romantic demons surely bleeds into Cohen’s skewed vision.

Sealing the deal is a bravura turn from Evans, always charismatic but here downright deadly, acing his American accent and conveying ice-cold menace throughout. He’s sensational, and there’s a cheeky trashiness to Kitamura’s worship of him – check out the bare-faced resurrection scene, which should elicit whoops of glee from female viewers.

In fact, women are unusually well-served in this film in general, with the femme fatales seeming conspicuously smarter than their male cohorts and Adelaide Clemens’ game- changing bounty proving a coolly authoritative presence, making good on the promise she showed in the otherwise ghastly Silent Hill: Revelation. The macho baddies are also lip-smackingly detestable, with Lee Tergesen making for a solid maverick hoodlum and Derek Magyar one of the best live-wire psychopaths since Warren Kole’s scene-stealing turn in the similarly amoral Mother’s Day.

By tempering his violence with suspenseful build-ups and sly humour, Kitamura has crafted a shocker that should appeal to fans of more action-oriented fare as well as gore-hounds. Even dubious audiences will likely find No One Lives a guilty pleasure that surely would have found some fans given the chance of a cinematic run. No matter, it’s one of those pleasant little surprises that’s sure to build up a cult following through word of mouth, and deservedly so. It’s great to see Kitamura maintain the level of consistent excitement he brought to Midnight Meat Train in this next step of his Hollywood career – I for one can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Reviewed on: 04 Oct 2013
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No One Lives packshot
Robbers on the run carjack a killer with a hostage on board.
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Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

Writer: David Cohen

Starring: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp

Year: 2012

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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