Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #327
Number of Views: One
Release Date: September 8, 2012 (Toronto International Film Festival), May 10, 2013
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 86 minutes
Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Producers: Harry Knapp, Kami Naghdi
Screenplay: David Cohen
Special Effects: Robert Hall, William Spataro
Visual Effects: Jesse Morrow, Jason Ruitenbach
Cinematography: Daniel Pearl
Score: Jerome Dillon
Editing: Toby Yates
Studio: WWE Studios
Distributor: Anchor Bay Films
Stars: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Laura Ramsey, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, America Olivo, Brodus Clay, Lindsey Shaw, Gary Grubbs, Andrea Frankle, Rob Steinberg, George Murdoch, Lenore Banks
Suggested Audio Candy:
Jerome Dillon No One Lives
That karma’s a bitch. It’s a well documented fact that what goes around, comes around and sometimes all we desire as film aficionados is to watch a bunch of shitty people die unceremoniously. If that is your bag then Ryûhei Kitamura’s No One Lives may well be the film for you. It features a smorgasbord of scumbags and reprobates and takes great delight in making them die slowly. High art it most certainly isn’t and, should you be looking for provocation of thought, then you’ve come to the wrong neck of the woods also. However, should bountiful gore tickle your pickle, then you may have just found your new favorite movie.
Kitamura is one of a long list of Eastern film makers who have been offered the chance to ply their trade Stateside and the transition proved somewhat effortless after The Midnight Meat Train gave us an adaptation of Clive Barker’s fiction well worth the one-day travel card. Previously, regional classics Versus and Azumi had shown his mettle in his homeland as a director and he was offered the fast pass to Hollywood as a result of such stellar efforts. No One Lives is his sophomore effort and, while not what you would call, the Great Expectations of home invasion movies, it does at least highlight his intention to sicken his addresses with boundless grue and that may well be enough for many.
Tact is clearly not Kitamura’s strongest suite. There is nothing about No One Lives that cries restraint, instead it is more a case of “look what the cat dragged in.” At a slender 86 minutes running time it isn’t looking to teach you the intricacies of the universe and neither is it intent on making you feel better about yourself as a person. However, it is happy to teach you what happens when you fuck with the wrong guy and, in rising star Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Raven) we have a real bona fide wrong ‘un. The Welshman plays the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing here although, with no lambs available to slaughter, he camps out inside WWE star George Murdoch’s gutted carcass instead. It’s quite a way to make an entrance and may well give Hannibal Lecter ideas about how to gain admission into Dodger games.
The story begins with a group of bickering gaggle of inept thieves whose routine robbery turns awry when the wealthy family in question return home and catch them red-handed. Flynn, the loose cannon of the group, decides the best course of action is to slaughter them in cold blood, much to the bemusement of his associates, and the only thing left to do afterwards is to head to a roadside steakhouse and regroup. Here they happen across a vacationing couple Driver (Evans) and Betty (Laura Ramsey) and the hot-headed Flynn can’t resist making his presence felt once more. Driver remains nonchalant and the pair leave before things turn any more FUBAR but their new-found nemeses waste no time in running their car off the road and taking them back to their getaway. In the history of bad moves, this may well rank amongst the worst.
If there’s a clue that things aren’t kosher then the fact that an heiress is tied up in the trunk is a pretty hefty giveaway. Emma (Michelle Williams lookalike Adelaide Clemens) has been imprisoned for months and it soon becomes clear that they picked the wrong travelers to trifle with. Emma is coherent enough to relay their upcoming fate to them and informs the group that they’re about to be made a rather vicious example of. Meanwhile, Driver is already making headway, has freed himself from his shackles after witnessing his beloved Betty end her own life, and begins to exact his bloody retribution. This isn’t a simple man scorned, this is a psychopath survivalist with not a scrap of remorse and many inventive ways to skin a cat. What plays out is one-part home invasion movie and one part vigilante thriller. It is however, two-parts gory as hell.
While he secures the perimeter of their hideout and picks off any tertiary group members with ruthless efficiency and complete lack of scruples, it is left to the remaining thugs to scratch their heads and question their chosen career paths.All the while, Emma attempts to warn them that escape will prove fruitless but since when did a group of undisciplined thugs pay a blind bit of attention to somebody they view as surplus to requirements? While they run about flailing their arms, Driver is closing in on their coordinates and only Emma, suffering something of a Stockholm Syndrome towards her captor, appears to have any chance of escaping his vile retribution.
No One Lives is an uneven affair, raucous and lacking in anything resembling restraint, it leaves its mark through numerous instances of savage torture. The cast is suitably sniveling and it is left to the strikingly beautiful Clemens (Silent Hill: Revelation 3D) to resonate. Meanwhile, Evans is an intriguing choice of butcher. On one hand, he’s just a little too pretty to buy into as a callous killer but, to his credit, he does take on the role with admirable gusto and a childhood watching The Exterminator and Death Wish has clearly informed his nuances here. Dialogue is stilted and occasionally laughable, not that Evans is required to engage in too much of it as he has his hands full with bloody murder.
Kitumara is no stranger to outré cinema, indeed it is how he has made his name. Eastern audiences lapped up both Versus and Azumi, while The Midnight Meat Train showed that he can make the transition Stateside. There is no question that he can shoot a stylish scene and anybody expecting that he has toned down on the over-the-top gore will be relieved to learn that he is just as sick a puppy as he ever was. However, when push comes to shove, it’s a pretty good revenge thriller with little to make it stand out from the crowd.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: With practical effects coming courtesy of Robert Hall’s Almost Human studio, we’re guaranteed quality. Heads roll, human piñata burst wide open, handcuffs are introduced as a new form of body modification, and America Olivia takes a soapy soak down just to ensure that all bases are soundly covered.
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