Review: No One Lives (Kitamura, 2012)

There are many things that can force a critical audience member to negatively pre-judge a film. One of these would be seeing the WWE Films logo at the beginning of any motion picture. Yes you read that right. For a number of years now the company that specialises in (you guessed it) wrestling, has been producing films and sneaking in some of their wrestling stars who hope to become the next Dwayne Johnson, John Cena or (at the very least) Randy Couture. Some of these films are pleasantly mediocre such as the John Cena vehicle 12 rounds and Welcome To The Jungle starring Dwayne (don’t call me “The Rock” because I’m a serious actor now) Johnson. But as one can expect there are some serious clunkers in the WWE Films vault for example; did anybody really ask to see Triple H act as an estranged father in a family comedy?

Well WWE thought you did and as a result The Chaperone was forced upon unsuspecting audiences. However recently the production company has been stepping their game up and releasing films that manage to reach above average level with this year’s Dead Man Down, the surprisingly good Halle Berry flick The Call (which reaches our shores on September 20th) and now No One Lives can be added to that list. The film focuses on a group of criminals who capture a wealthy couple (played by Luke Evans and America Olivo) who are travelling across America.

Let’s just get to the point here: this movie is (without trying to over-sell it too much) absolutely brilliant! Director Rhyuhei Kitamura along with screenwriter David Cohen have managed to create a slasher film that whilst using many of the old tropes, manages to feel fresh and exciting. Cohen would probably have more to do with this because with his script he has ensured that none of the main characters are likeable in the slightest. Now some viewers would see that as a negative thing because then there is no one to root for, however the evil VS evil aspect really does inject some life into a film whose genre usually centres on plucky young adults being picked off one by one. Cohen’s script is littered with darkly (almost pitch black) humorous moments without the film losing any of its tension.

Although for the most part the characters were one note, credit must go to all of the actors because there is not one bad performance in the film. However the ones who really stood out are Luke Evans and Adelaide Clement because they pretty much steal every scene that they are in. Also as this is a WWE film the audience is treated to the screen debut of Brodus Clay who was probably told to just snarl constantly and look intimidating. Not an acting stretch but he does it very well.

Last but certainly not least is the directing. One can guess that director Rhyuhei Kitamura has watched all the SAW sequels and used some of them as notes on how not to use gore. Now viewers should be warned that this is an extremely gory film! However unlike the SAW series where the gore was used to make the audience feel queasy, Kitamura manages to find a way to use the gore in a manner that will likely make audience members go “oooohhh” or “AHA” instead of “ugh” *vomit*.

Although it is definitely not for the squeamish, No One Lives is a rare treat for horror movie fans, especially ones who have Scream and the original Nightmare on Elm Street in their film collection.

 

9/10

Nathan Gibbons