By David Watson

A young woman (the gorgeous Adelaide Clemens), later revealed to be a kidnapped heiress, flees hysterically through the woods, desperately trying to escape her captor when she blunders into a booby trap and finds herself swinging upside down by her ankles from a rope, powerless.  A seemingly normal young couple (Luke Evans and Laura Ramsay), travelling across country to start a new life, run afoul of a gang of redneck petty criminals, particularly the psychotic Flynn (Derek Magyar), and find themselves kidnapped.  And then…something unexpected and shocking happens, a particularly brutal death that warrants bloody retribution and pitches the surviving traveller against the gang of white trash robbers and stirs into the mix a kidnapped girl running from a relentless serial killer who’s determined that “No one lives!” 

To say too much more would ruin the delicious, transgressive fun of Ryuhei Kitamura’s gleefully nasty, blackly comic thriller No One Lives which serves up some of the most interesting, creative kills this side of the Saw franchise and bags of gore along with it’s genre thrills.  At one point a literal bag of gore, all that’s left of one character, is delivered to the door of the cabin where some of the protagonists are sheltering from the film’s homicidal antihero, exploding on the front porch.

Kitamura has dubbed his serial murderer protagonist “Hannibal Lecter meets Jason Bourne” and that’s as good a description as any as our murderous MacGyver rigs booby traps to maim and kill his prey, feeds rednecks to wood-chippers and shreds the faces from backwoods bucks as he takes his pound of flesh from everyone who crosses his path.  No One Lives may not be subtle but it is enormous fun as psycho vs. psychos in a balls to the wall, full-tilt boogie bayou deathmatch, the luckless bad guys battling an even badder guy for survival in this deep-fried slice of Deep Southern American Gothic. 

Director of the hugely under-rated Clive Barker adaptation The Midnight Meat Train, Kitamura brings a sweaty, sensual gloss to his ultra-stylish shocker, cheekily referencing films as different as Apocalypse Now and The Empire Strikes Back, and there’s an uncomfortably icky erotic tension between Clemens and Evans that’s throbbing and palpable.  As the object of sociopathic obsession, Clemens is wonderful, her victimised hostage, far from being a victim, fighting tooth and claw for her survival, craftily playing her various captors off against each other and cynically commenting on the action (“You just killed the only person with a soul.”) while still suggesting that there’s more to her relationship with Evans than mere Stockholm Syndrome fascination. 

Evans meanwhile is sex on legs; a charismatic antihero who may just be the coolest psychopath to stalk the screen since Sean Connery lit a cigarette and told the baccarat table his name was: “Bond.  James Bond.”  They’re ably supported by Oz alumni Lee Tergesen and the pneumatic America Olivo and there’s a wonderfully slimy turn from Derek Magyar as twitchy redneck psycho Flynn.  

Taut, intense, campy B-movie fun, No One Lives is a superior slice of splatterporn.

VERDICT: [rating=5]

About The Author

2 Responses

  1. Matthew Hammond

    Finally saw this…and absolutely loved it! Such a fantastic exploitation vibe; couldn’t agree more with the review 🙂 Will definitely be a regular watch when i fancy fun, slick but sick entertainment!