Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
After the highly stylised successes of Versus and The Midnight Meat Train, promising director Ryuhei Kitamura returns to the genre with the hideously uneven No One Lives.
Luke Evans takes the lead here as Driver, an unassuming everyman on a cross-country relocation with his partner Betty (Ramsay) and trailer in tow. On the way, the pair encounter a group of vicious criminals headed up by the patriarchal figure Hoag (Tergensen). Making an executive decision, the reckless young member of the gang, Flynn (Magyar) takes it upon himself to run Driver and Betty off the road with a view to taking all of their stuff.
Turns out that’s a bad idea, as Driver is no every day bloke — in fact, he’s mad as a bag of hammers. A serial killer with the creativity and resources to match his insanity, Driver becomes a one-man wrecking team when the criminal gang release victim Emma (Adelaide Clemens) from the trunk of his car. Cue a sequence of obnoxiously loud and bloody action sequences punctuated with frequent unintentional hilarity and the complete abandonment of anything considered even close to logic.
It’s honestly mind-boggling how so much of this nonsense even made it past the script stage. Whether it’s the persistent stream of horrible, stilted dialogue, scenes involving Evans emerging buck-naked from the hollowed-out body of a victim or the guffaw-inducing smash cut revealing the positively Tardis-like inners of Driver’s tiny trailer unleashing all manner of high-tech weaponry, No One Lives is consistently ridiculous. The problem is that it wants you to take it seriously, and this lands it squarely in “guilty pleasure” territory. The entertainment factor is high if approached with the right mindset (read: just have fun and laugh at it), but the utter failure in reaching the goal of what it actually wants to be is painfully obvious throughout every scene. The relationship between Driver and Emma is as ridiculous as anything else on display, with our anti-hero having intentions of liberation rather than mutilation in her particular case, punctuated by flashbacks and exposition as haphazardly thought out as anything else on display.
Despite a solid, crisp and professional look to the film, Kitamura’s usual high level of style feels surprisingly restrained here with inventive cinematography giving way for loud explosions and people thrown through tables instead. It’s impressively bloody, though, so gore fans will easily get their fix. Provided the woeful dialogue, unconvincing characters and schizophrenic tone don’t put you off too early, there’s some greasy fast-food fun to be had but anyone expecting a respectable level of quality on any narrative level would do well to stay far, far away from No One Lives. Perhaps No One Cares would make for an apt re-titling, as it seems that just about nobody involved in this glossy mess really did.
1out of 5