No One Lives does survive, albeit clingingly, on life support thanks to a simple story, some tense moments and a near masterful and disturbing performance from Luke Evans. This is not a film that will break ground in the horror genre, very few, if any, do nowadays, and the screenplay and acting from some of the supporting players could have been better, but on the whole it’s a worthwhile flick to rent if nothing else comes to mind.
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Anchor Bay | R – 86 min. – $30.99 | August 20, 2013
Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writer(s): David Lawrence Cohen
Cast: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Laura Ramsey, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, America Olivo, Broodus Clay, Lindsey Shaw
Theatrical Release Date: May 10, 2013
Features: Featurette, DVD Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 21.8 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
No One Lives is easily one the strangest and most unique revenge movies ever made, perhaps only topped by one of the Death Wish sequels. It’s also a picture that allows Luke Evans, who has been a part of a few high profile films of late, to finally shine a bit more.
The story centers on a man credited only as Driver (LUKE EVANS) and his girlfriend Betty (LAURA RAMSEY) moving cross-country when they decide to stop off at a rundown little town and stay at the local motel. Once there, while eating dinner, they run into a gang who had recently murdered a family as they returned home while being robbed. One member of this gang, Flynn (DEREK MAGYAR) is the hot tempered type and gets into Driver’s face while putting down the girlfriend. Seeing enough, Hoag (LEE TERGESEN), the leader of this pack and his crew force Flynn to leave.
However, the couple’s troubles are only beginning. On their way back to the motel, Flynn forces them off the road and knocks them both out. Flynn figures since they’re driving an expensive BMW, they must be loaded and thus can clean them out, first by using Hoag’s big brother (WWE’s BRODUS CLAY), to beat bank passwords out of Driver at a deserted location. There’s one tiny little problem with this plan: Flynn picked the wrong people to mess with. While going through their belongings in the car, Flynn finds a tied up girl named Emma (ADELAIDE CLEMENS), hidden inside the trunk.
Back at the interrogation room, with a knife held to her throat, Betty pulls forward forcing the knife through, spraying blood everywhere and thusly royally pissing Driver off as he manages to get out of one of his handcuffs and kicks the crap out of the large dude, ultimately killing him in a unique fashion. It is revealed by this point, via Emma, that Driver is in fact a serial killer and now is out for revenge on those who he has held responsible for Betty’s death.
It’s a simple story but that’s all what is needed really although getting better actors would’ve helped in taking this from just an ordinary direct-to-video* horror flick to something special, perhaps along the lines of American Psycho if you added some satire into the mix. That being said, there is one good reason to see this movie: Luke Evans.
Before I get to Evans, who seems to be a rising star, I’ll first tackle the supporting cast consisting of plenty of known faces but not very well known names. Lee Tergesen seems to have found a small niche with horror having appeared in Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning and last year’s The Collection. Like the others, there’s not a heck of a lot to the guy except he has more of a sense of self preservation, and thinking logically, compared with the others in his crew. Derek Magyar’s face is definitely recognizable making stops on various television shows including “Enterprise”, “CSI” and “Criminal Minds” the latter he played a wheelchair bound psychopath so basically the same character, just with the ability to walk; America Olivo is a wonder in her limited role as the residential hottie and lastly, amongst the gang, Lindsey Shaw, from “Pretty Little Liars” and the decent thriller Crush, is probably the only person with any semblance of a soul.
I’ll also mention Australian-born Adelaide Clemens who was the only good thing in the dreadful Silent Hill: Revelation and she had an important role in Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. She’s nothing special here but with more expansion on her character, she would’ve made for a good and strong heroine.
Now, as for Luke Evans, I’ve been a fan of this dude for a long while. His blockbuster debut was 2010’s Clash of the Titans which was average fair saved only by the supporting actors and Immortals, another average fantasy action-er which Evans was good in but the movie itself didn’t reach its full potential. But unlike his supporting roles, which also include his villainy turn in Fast and Furious 6, with No One Lives, he gets to shine as the star and makes the most of it. In one key scene, Driver does one of the most unique Trojan horse tricks ever put on film; it’s disgusting yet disgustingly brilliant even if it requires a stretch of logic for it to happen.
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, who also helmed a couple disturbing up-and-coming cult classics Versus and The Midnight Meat Train, and while No One Lives doesn’t hold a candle to either one, you can see Kitamura’s talent come through behind the camera. If in the hands of some mediocre horror filmmaker, say Eli Roth, then this would’ve been a complete loss of a film, one deservedly forgotten in the annals of DTV* land. The screenplay by first-time script writer David Cohen isn’t the best, and at times a bit sloppy, but some of the dialogue packs a punch and the main character is fleshed out, no pun intended, enough to make him memorable.
* The film did have a very limited theatrical release in 53 theaters garnering a paltry $75k in total revenue.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
From the Script to the Crypt (27:42; HD) is a fairly detailed making-of featurette providing on-set interviews with the cast and crew talking about the screenplay and what drew director Ryuhei Kitamura and executive producer Elton Brand (the NBA player) to the project. You also get a look at the gallons of blood created as well as the extensive prosthetics work.
The release also includes a standard DVD Copy.
Preview – The Lords of Salem
VIDEO – 2.75/5
Rolling into town on Blu-ray, No One Lives comes courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film is presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer that looks positively splotchy especially for a new release. Even if it was probably on the cheap, I was a bit surprised that although there is your normal grain and/or noise but it looks like it was almost placed on top of the video rather than integrated as you often see in recent Blu-rays (especially ones distributed by Universal). However, here it really detracts instead of enhances. On the plus side, the dark levels do look decent and there’s plenty of it to judge as a fair amount of the movie takes place at night.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The disc is accompanied with a well balanced Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track. The range on this track is good providing for crisp and clear dialogue, or blood-curdling screams when applicable, as well as expands during the more action-oriented moments over which Jerome Dillon’s thrilling score blares. It might not be the most satisfying track but it’s more than satisfactory for the movie at hand.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, No One Lives does survive, albeit clingingly, on life support thanks to a simple story, some tense moments and a near masterful and disturbing performance from Luke Evans. This is not a film that will break ground in the horror genre, very few, if any, do nowadays, and the screenplay and acting from some of the supporting players could have been better, but on the whole it’s a worthwhile flick to rent if nothing else comes to mind. The Blu-ray meanwhile has an average video transfer, a well round lossless track and a detailed featurette.