Friday, September 21, 2012

"No One Lives" Will Make You Wish for Death

Luke Evans is coming to ruin your night at the movies. Run!  © Pathé International 2012
"No One Lives" is a horror film that goes too far. One syllable too far, crossing from "horror" to "horrible."

The premise of Ryuhei Kitamura's ("Versus", "The Midnight Meat Train") latest is promising. A handsome young couple (Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey) are moving, relocating, trailer in tow behind their BMW.  They catch the attention of a gang of local criminals. We know these are bad criminals because we saw one gang member murder a whole family that stumbled upon them burgling the family's home. The rest of the gang is upset because this cost them money when they had to cut their burglary short. The kicker here is that, when they hijack the couple, hoping for some easy money, the everyday monsters unleash the wrath of a true monster.

It turns out the couple are holding Emma, a missing heiress (Adelaide Clemens), captive and have been for months, since she went missing from the scene of a brutal mass murder. Unfortunately, the film can never make this idea of evil versus EVIL deliver. Kitamura's direction is, for the most part, pedestrian. Anyone hoping for style that elevates this film above standard gore-filled horror will be disappointed. There are a few moments, a few scenes, that, however ridiculous they might be, do stand out, making one wish for more. It would have at least made it visually engaging. The acting the pacing, and the dialogue all come up short. They're never so bad that it's good. Just bad.

The one thing that is intriguing, is Emma. Held captive and brutalized by the unnamed psychopath, she finds herself again a captive. The gang hope to strike it rich by returning her for a reward, but seem unclear on how to go about it, given their involvement in a car-jacking, kidnapping, and the steadily mounting pile of dead bodies and body parts. Now she's stuck in the middle, observing that her best chance of escape is while her former captor is killing the gang. While fearful of him, it's clear she has no doubt he can best the crew. One can't help wonder if she can really escape him or if she has developed Stockholm Syndrome and will find it impossible to break free. That idea never really coalesces into anything, thanks to bad writing and Clemens' limitations as an actress.

When "No One Lives" finally ends, in a most unsatisfying way, one is glad to have survived. That you just wasted 86 minutes of your life on a film with no scares, no brains, and no style is the only horror on offer.

Rating: 1/5