Studio: Anchor Bay
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writer: David Lawrence Cohen
Producer: Harry Knapp, Kami Naghdi
Stars: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Laura Ramsey, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, America Olivo, Brodus Clay, Lindsey Shaw
Tables are turned on a gang of murderous thieves when their latest victims produce a shocking surprise of their own.
“No One Lives” is a revenge horror cocktail of “The Collector” shaken with “Last House on the Left” and downed with a chaser of Patty Hearst and Stockholm Syndrome. That quick description perhaps reveals too much of the plot already, although not quite as much as the title does on its own. “No One Lives” does not have a twist to its premise so much as a gentle bend, but anything more than that first sentence might spoil the movie’s premise.
A simpler, yet more direct way to phrase it would be to say that a band of murderous thieves targets a pair of tourists “passing through” and ends up with a lot more on their hands than they bargained for. Luke Evans, looking like Dominic West of “The Wire” wearing the facial hair of Orlando Bloom, joins Lee Tergesen and Adelaide Clemens, forever doomed to be likened to Michelle Williams, at the top of a cast of talented actors put to use in a film that offers little in the way of character development aside from kill or be killed.
The plot shows the table its entire hand by the end of act one. Once that setup is established and every turn has been taken, it is back to a straight arrow path that charges ahead to the finish line while decapitating everything in its path. That is welcome news for anyone looking for old-fashioned gore-fueled mayhem and nothing else. Those hopeful for a more engaging thriller will have the soft glow of a cell phone to illuminate their faces as they check the time.
“No One Lives” is not a bad chapter for the endless bookshelf of slasher flicks, it is just an ultimately empty one. Grading the film for meeting its goal of a simply set bar would score unanimous tens from all of the judges for its shallow end dive. Yet while it may be a movie with no loftier of an ambition than to provide an 80-minute diversion of bloodsoaked gags, that does not mean it should skate completely by without being compared to a higher standard.
The kills are good and the actors are even better, but to what end? Fun without substance fades quickly from memory. Director Ryuhei Kitamura and his cast are capable of far more than the straightforward material delivered here. Kitamura in particular has proven his capacity for injecting much more octane, and intelligence, into suspenseful horror. It is hard to come away from “No One Lives” without the feeling that an appetizing salad has just been consumed, and now the stomach is rumbling for a juicy main course. Too bad the kitchen is already closed.
Were it a candy bar, “No One Lives” would not exactly qualify for the satisfaction of a Snickers. “No One Lives” has the creamy nougat of splattery shock kills and a chocolate covered coating of thin horror entertainment. Yet it is missing the caramel texture of a layered story and the peanut clusters of uniquely memorable moments. This is more of a Three Musketeers, and it is about as filling as the tiny Fun Size bars that populate Trick or Treat bags every October 31st. With a horror movie sack full of so many tastier options, a hungry stomach would be better off reaching right past and grabbing something that offers a much more fulfilling kick in the taste buds.
Review Score: 60