No One Lives
dir Ryuhei Kitamura
scr David Lawrence Cohen
prd Harry Knapp, Kami Naghdi
with Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Derek Magyar, Laura Ramsey, Beau Knapp, America Olivo, Brodus Clay, Lindsey Shaw, Gary Grubbs, Lenore Banks, Robert Wailes
release US 10.May.13, UK 6.Sep.13
12/UK Pathe 1h26
No One Lives
Not-so-happy couple: Evans and Ramsey

clemens tergesen magyar
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
No One Lives Even though it's played dead straight, this gonzo horror film is so extreme that it's actually quite funny. Whether this is intentional or not is anyone's guess. The filmmakers never wink at the camera as they try to be as gruesome as possible. But by happily playing with every gross-out cliche imaginable they at least give fans a rather cool bloodbath.

Still angry over an affair, Betty (Ramsey) being driven by her boyfriend (Evans) through the Northwest. They stop for the night in a town gripped by the disappearance of heiress Emma (Clemens). Then they have an encounter with a gang of burglars (Tergesen, Magyar, Olivo, Knapp and Clay) who have just killed a family in a sudden act of violence. But when the goons steal their car, they discover Emma hidden in the car, and she warns them that the driver is actually a psychopathic maniac. By all evidence, she may be right.

Director Kitamura is a little too enthusiastic about grisly violence, indulging in appalling nastiness. But this makes the whole film feel faintly ridiculous, as it wallows in graphic carnage and torture that's both psychological and physical. The script raises tension by focussing on the power struggle between Tergeson's cool-headed gang leader and Magyar's trigger-happy hotheaded, because as they clash over everything, they cause much of the mayhem in the film.

Meanwhile, Evans prowls menacingly around the edges of every scene like an almost comically inventive avenging angel, creating mind-boggling implements of terror from handy objects like a remote control or a wood-chipper. Through all of this, the criminals loudly lash out with displays of empty bravura, while Clemens' Emma stares into the middle distance whispering about unstoppable, unspeakable horror. No, there isn't a subtle performance in the whole film.

The film's main message seems to be that if you're going to plan a crime, you'd better think it through first. Waving a big gun around isn't enough. "You know what I hate about the modern criminal?" Evans' never-named killer growls. "They're so mediocre!" This is a delightful message for the kids in the audience, although by the end even they'll know that they shouldn't take anything in this film seriously.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality 18.Aug.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall