No One Lives is an American Horror film written by David Cohen and directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train). Check out my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: A ruthless criminal gang takes a young couple hostage and goes to ground in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. When the captive girl is killed, the tables are unexpectedly turned. The gang finds itself outsmarted by an urbane and seasoned killer determined to ensure that no one lives.
Okay, so Luke Evans is the star but his character doesn’t have a name. I assume the filmmakers were attempting some kind of depth here, but considering every other character has a name, it’s pretty annoying. He’s called “Driver” in the credits, which is silly because he only drives a couple times. Anyway, Driver is an anti-hero, meaning he’s a bad guy, but we’re supposed to like him anyway because he’s cool or something.
We meet Driver and his girlfriend Betty en route from Point A to Point B for nebulous “relocation” purposes. There seems to be some sort of sad tension between them; when Betty refers to “her” we assume it’s a love triangle or something. Anyway, the couple runs afoul of a crew of backwoods criminals who take them for an easy mark. Big mistake.
Last Year’s You’re Next was about a group of home invaders who pick the wrong family to fuck with when it turns out that one of the intended victims is a hard-core survivalist. No One Lives tries to pull a similar trick when it’s revealed that Driver is not just some random dude (or even a random bad-ass), but some Jason Bourne type Universal Soldier. But unlike Jason Bourne who has a cool backstory and clear motivations, Driver is a complete blank. Is he ex military, or a spy, or a commando, or a mercenary? We don’t know. It’s almost as if the filmmakers thought his character was just so damn cool he didn’t need any development whatsoever. His motivations? Debatable, but one thing’s for sure: He doesn’t give a damn about money (if he did, he’d have cashed in his $2 Million ransom reward ages ago).
The backwoods criminals are equally underdeveloped and 2-dimensional. I think we’re supposed to like some of them more than others, because it’s a motley crew to say the least. When Driver starts killing them off, it’s hard to know whom we’re supposed to root for: The gang or the kidnapper?
Bottom line, No One Lives is a great looking film (awesome FX, creative bloody kills) with an absolutely terrible script. While certain aspects of the film are intriguing, it’s such a disjointed, unrealistic mess that it’s impossible to take seriously. Nods to Reservoir Dogs and Texas Chainsaw Massacre are cool, but do little to give the film any legitimacy.
There’s an attempt to explain the bond between Driver and his ladies (Betty and Emma) with some sort of accelerated form of Stockholm Syndrome; even though he’s a brutal, manipulative psychopath, his victims actually love him deep down (absurd, even offensive, yes I agree). Driver’s single motivation seems to be his need to control beautiful women.
It almost shames me to admit, however, that for such a lemon of a flick, I was surprisingly entertained. I was picking it to pieces, for sure, but I was never bored while watching No One Lives. It’s almost like the adult in me couldn’t get past the deplorable writing, but the kid in me was completely enamored by the non-stop action and gleeful bloodletting.
So while I can’t recommend buying the Blu-Ray or DVD for your collection, you might not hate yourself for giving it a watch (especially in a group setting with some drinks). Keep those expectations extremely low, ignore copious plot-holes, kill a few brain cells, and you might actually enjoy No One Lives.
2 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|Release Date (VOD, Limited)||May 10 2013|
|Studio||Anchor Bay Films|
|Starring||Luke Evans, Lee Tergesen, Adelaide Clemens, Laura Ramsey, Lindsey Shaw, America Olivo, Beau Knapp, Derek Magyar, Brodus Clay|