No One Lives – Review ★★★

no one

Director Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train) takes us back to old school days of horror with this throwback to the 70s that takes its name as literal and gives us enough blood spills and cheap thrills in its relatively short running time – 86 minutes – to suitably entertain (or have you reaching for the sick bag depending on your taste).

Whilst not being a game changer No One Lives delivers some new and unique twists to an old story. To start with you think you know where its heading; a young couple (Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey) are taking a relocation road trip, in-advisably deciding to spend the night at a remote motel which culminates in their being accosted and tormented by a group of thuggish local yocals, not dissimilar to the likes of Eden Lake…. but there is something a bit fishy about Evan’s Driver and the fact his lady friend continually makes reference to a mysterious ‘her’ who seems to have previously come in between their relationship.

This is coincided with flashbacks of missing heiress Emma (Adelaide Clemens) and we quickly learn that Driver is not quite the shy, sensitive and retiring type he would have you believe, but more a deranged psychopath who revels in killing, has ninja-like skills to support this unusual pastime and has been holding Emma hostage since he brutally murdered all her friends, developing something reminiscent of Lima Syndrome towards his captive. The gang of thugs, led by Lee Tergesen’s detestable Hoag, discover Driver’s prisoner and upon learning of her identity are eager to turn her in and claim a generous reward, but Driver has other plans and soon the two are embroiled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse as the criminals realise it is in fact them who should run for cover or face a gruesome fate.

It’s bad guys against a badder guy in this grisly slasher flick which does make it difficult to actually like any of the characters, although somehow you kind of find yourself rooting for Evan’s unhinged serial killer which does cause you to question your moral judgement. No One Lives is more gore than actual scares, so if you’re the kind of horror fan who likes to jump out of your skin it’s probably best to look elsewhere, however for carnage fanatics there are some rather ingenious moments probably best epitomised by Driver putting a whole new spin on the term ‘body bag’.

This has so far been one of WWE’s better faring big screen releases, and you wouldn’t particularly spot it as one of theirs if it wasn’t for the girl on girl smackdown that ensues about three quarters of the way through; the story is over the top and the dialogue is often hilarious but, whether or not this is intentional, it all adds to the fun. In terms of technicalities the cinematography is nicely done, the score effective and Evans puts in a solid performance embodying all the callous characteristics of a psychopath, which granted are not particularly testing of an actor’s skill set but he makes the most of it all the same.

Overall a bloody, slaughtery extravaganza of violence with enough twists and turns to keep the viewer interested even if the memory of it doesn’t last long.

No One Lives had its UK premier at Frightfest and is set for DVD release on 6th September, catch the trailer below for more of what’s in store.

Katie Hall is the assistant editor at Critics Associated.