MRR Review: "No One Lives"

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On a cross-country trip, a wealthy couple are kidnapped by a group of highway killers, but there's more to their story than what's seen at first glance.
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MRR Review: "No One Lives"

-- Rating: R (strong bloody violence, pervasive language and disturbing images throughout, and some nudity/sexuality)
Length: 86 minutes
Release date: May 10, 2013
Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura
Genre: Horror and Thriller

"No One Lives" is an incredibly gory horror/slasher film from director Ryuhei Kitamura that seems destined to be a cult movie classic among hardcore fans of this genre. Intensely violent and bloody, this film is definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Still, many will get a kick out of watching the increasingly creative and elaborate murders that dominate the second half of the film.

The film focuses on what would seem at first to be its super macho hero, a man simply referred to in the credits as Driver, portrayed brutally by the charismatic Luke Evans. All we know about Driver is that he and his girlfriend have recently moved into town to escape the troubles of their past, although it doesn't seem to be working too well as Driver is too emotionally distant for there ever to be hope of patching things up.

Still, all seems to be at least amicable between them until the trouble starts. The couple is driving down the road when suddenly they are taken hostage by a gang of criminals. These criminals have no idea just how big a mistake they have made.

The audience quickly begins to realize that everything between the couple must not be as it seemed after Driver's girlfriend inexplicably and violently slices off her own head when presented with a chance to escape with her boyfriend. However, this is just the beginning of the violence and blood, as Driver begins to take revenge on the gang that had attempted to hold him hostage.

The rest of the film focuses on Driver meticulously hunting down each of the gang members before killing each one in in a different, innovative way using a variety of different props and tools, including a somewhat cliché scene involving a wood chipper. The gang realizes they have underestimated their would-be victim as more of their members are gruesomely dealt with, and they start running and hiding from this self-proclaimed psychopath and doing all that they can to defend themselves.

The only thing that breaks up the seemingly endless death scenes is the somewhat difficult to understand side story involving the missing heiress Emma, played brilliantly by the seductive Adelaide Clemens. Emma's disappearance has been front page news for months, but soon after being taken hostage, you are treated to a view of Emma, who is bound and gagged inside a hidden compartment in Driver's trunk.

Everything is basically wrapped up nicely at the end, but there is still the feeling that it was all a bit pointless-just one evil man taking out his aggression on other evil men, with seemingly no good characters to be found in the story, unless you can count Emma. Still, she isn't really developed enough as a character to know for sure.

In fact, none of the characters are thoroughly developed, and really none of them are even likeable. Nonetheless, "No One Lives" doesn't pretend to be anything but a gruesome kill fest, and as such the lack of character development doesn't matter so much, especially considering the film's quite short running time of just over seventy minutes, not including the credits.

The dialogue also seems a bit forced, but the cast is still able to pull it all off admirably, and again director Ryuhei Kitamura and writer David Cohen don't seem too concerned with realism or plausibility, instead relying on the over-the-top murder scenes to drive the film forward.

Anyone who is looking for more background or an in-depth storyline will probably be disappointed. However, if you're able to look past these things and just take the film for what it is, you should find it to be both entertaining and shocking at the same time. While there is little doubt that "No One Lives" will never be considered a masterpiece, it is nonetheless fun to watch and provides many memorable killings, some of which rank up there with the best the slasher horror genre has to offer.

Overall, "No One Lives" definitely lives up to its name, and it manages to squeeze in an impressive number of innovative deaths into a shorter than average running time, which works well in this situation, as viewers might start to get bored or desensitized if it continued on much longer. It's definitely not a classic, but it's still a movie that fans of bloody violence and gore are sure to love, "No One Lives" at least deserves a place in cult horror film history.

Rating 3 out of 5 stars