NO ONE LIVES (2012)
I’m a big fan of Ryuhei Kitamura’s (Versus, Azumi, Godzilla: FInal Wars) Japanese films, he’s innovative and has a great visual style. I even like Midnight Meat Train a bit, his American debut. So I was eager to catch his newest flick, No One Lives and was sadly, very disappointed.
The film starts out fine with an intense scene of a young woman, Emma (Adelaide Clemens) running through the woods and becoming snared in a trap. So far, so good. Then it cuts to an attractive couple (Luke Evans, Laura Ramsey) driving to a remote motel towing a trailer behind their car. At the same time a ruthless group of redneck thieves are robbing a wealthy home and when caught by the occupants, the family is gunned down in cold blood. Obviously, the two groups are destined to meet and do at a local restaurant. After a tense encounter with the vicious loose cannon Flynn, (Derek Magyar) the gang leaves them be and soon the couple are on their way. They are ambushed and run off the road by Flynn, who leaves them with the hulking Ethan (WWE’s Brodus Clay) to get their PIN numbers while Flynn searches their car…why he doesn’t search the trailer first is beyond me. Instead of finding wealth, Flynn finds the bound and gagged Emma hidden behind a secret panel. Once free, she warns him that they are all going to die as Ethan has already found out. Soon the blood is flowing and this backwoods band of thieves is finding out, in gory fashion, that they messed with the wrong psychopath.
First problem with the film is not Kitamura’s, as the script gives us absolutely no one to root or care for. The thieves are awful people and you don’t care what happens to them, Emma is a droning harbinger of doom, who evokes little sympathy and Luke Evan’s combination of Rambo and Norman Bates is just a robotic killing machine, who is too sadistic and emotionless to work as an anti-hero. We are left with nothing but less then 90 minutes of brutal violence, with absolutely no emotional investment. Kitamura doesn’t even bring his usual kinetic energy to the film as it is very by the numbers and there is little or no tension or suspense, as the next victim’s demise can be seen from miles away. The film looks good and the gore FX are top notch, but there is simply nothing to really get us involved. The script has more holes than the victims. For example, the thieves not searching the trailer, which conveniently carries Evan’s (his character is never given a name) cache of hi-tech weapons. A trailer which sat in front of their house and is obviously full. The remaining thieves also stop at the same motel Evans and his girlfriend stayed at AND pay with his credit card, that Flynn took out of his wallet. Really? All this silly plot contrivance does is give an actor a five minute appearance as a local sheriff. That is it, so what was the point?
No One Lives is just another movie with a paper thin excuse to give the gore FX team a lot to do and hit us with what the filmmakers think are clever ways to grind up faces or explode heads. The actors are all wooden and recite the bad dialog in a monotone fashion, so not even they can breathe life into the cardboard clichés the film passes off as characters. It’s a lame exercise in pointless violence sadly made by a director whose previous work was inventive, fun and gave valid reasons to splatter the screen red, if the story required it. Not much to recommend here unless you are a Kitamura completest, or you don’t mind your violence brutal and pointless.
Rated 2 (out of 4) lethally utilized clipboards!