"Although hideously flawed in places, it's one hell of an entertaining trip to the cinema..."
When settling down to watch Ryûhei Kitamura's No One Lives, you learn that it's a WWE Studios production – a subsidiary of the wrestling federation. That, my friends, is all you need to know about this title; in what is a dark, bloodthirsty thriller that is gloriously over the top, and although hideously flawed in places, it's one hell of an entertaining trip to the cinema.
Live-wire criminal Flynn (Derek Magyar) and his gang of ruthless killers decide to kidnap a seemingly affluent couple – the nameless Luke Evans and his girlfriend Betty (Laura Ramsey) – who are travelling across the state, only to discover something rather peculiar in their trunk. What transpires as a result is a series of unexplainable and fearful events, that soon ensure that every single person involved is left fighting for their lives.
No One Lives in relentlessly good fun, as a thriller that is no holds barred right from the word go. The director completely deserves the right to take such an approach given the modest running time, as a film that falls short of the 90 minute mark. The frivolity of the piece does grow somewhat tiring however, as the film struggles to match the opening quarter of an hour, where there is an actual story developing. As we progress towards the latter stages, the film loses much of its direction as the gory elements take precedence – a shame as the initial premise certainly has potential.
It is intriguing how the story is set up so that there aren't truly any endearing characters, as you just want everyone to die – though the title of the film is somewhat comforting in that regard. That's by no means a negative either, as this is intended to be bad guys versus bad guys, which helps to detract from the trepidation and suspense of the piece and instead enhances the overstated nature of the film, playing up to the bloodbath that transpires.
The one performance that truly stands out – and given the credentials of the supporting cast it's not too much of a surprise – is that of Evans, playing our unnamed protagonist. He has this charisma to him, and a psychotic streak that allows for the viewer to both root for him and fear him in equal measure. The other lead role belongs to Adelaide Clemens, playing a hostage called Emma. She looks very similar to that of Hollywood star Michelle Williams, which can prove to be somewhat distracting. Sadly that's where any such comparisons end, mind you.
The other performances are terrible however, and don't even get me started on the screenplay, with a plethora of one-liners that provoke an immediate placing of your head in your hands. However the immoderate, melodramatic approach is what makes this film the spectacle that it is. It's a quite appalling piece of cinema, granted, yet that's almost the catch – that's the selling point. Had it taken itself any more seriously it quite simply wouldn't work.
No One Lives is a gory, intense and entertaining thriller, that seems reminiscent of the sort of movie you'd find on Channel 5 on a Friday night, which, regrettably – and somewhat inevitably - is more than likely to be the one place this film will end up.