Everyone runs. Everyone hides.
No One Lives is a fantastic movie. It begins with one of my favorite opening sequences, as the filmmakers simultaneously pay homage to and subvert some of horror’s most well-known tropes. My love affair with this film starts with an extremely tight script by first-time writer David Cohen. There are no long gaps in the action, no painful exposition; rather this world is populated by people who talk to each other like normal humans without assuming the audience is too dumb to follow the subtext.
No One Lives is best seen cold. In fact I would say cover your eyes until you hear the sound of the menu and then hit play, as the menu animation gives away some of the film’s best moments. I hate to give anything away so I’ll just sum the plot up quickly, spoiler free:
There is a Driver (Luke Evans, Immortals), who’s traveling with his lady Betty (Laura Ramsey, The Ruins). They come across a gang of thieves led by Hoag (Lee Tergesen, Oz). When their paths cross the movie really kicks into high gear and never stops. This movie has some of the most gruesome kills ever filmed, and I love director Ryuhei Kitamura’s choice to use them as an homage to eighties slasher films, meaning most of the effects are in-camera — and they are brutally effective. There is so much blood and gore here I don’t know how you could ask for more. Kitamura directed The Midnight Meat Train, so you know when I say “bloody” I mean bloody.
No One Lives is absolutely anchored by Evans’ performance. When we meet him, he is a fully formed character, though we at first believe there is a metamorphosis of his character — but what we realize by the movie’s end is Driver is who he is the entire film, there are just choices and actions which reveal more of who he is to us yet everything he is laid out from the get-go and makes the idea of multiple viewings especially appealing.
If Evans is the anchor, then he is indelibly tethered to Adelaide Clemens (The Great Gatsby), who plays Emma. Clemens is incredible in this role and plays a character who I wanted to watch from the moment she appeared on screen. I wanted to know her story. Their relationship adds a psychological element to this film which elevates it far and above a typical slasher film. As an aside, there is also nudity so if you like your horror with a side of boobage then delight in this knowledge.
I really will be doing a disservice to say anything more about the film aside from giving it my highest recommendation. Anyone who loves horror will love this, and if you like a bit of a psychological aspect with your gore, you will find no fault with No One Lives. I didn’t.
Shot almost entirely at night, No One Lives (Blu-ray) holds its own in terms of video transfer. The 2.40:1 aspect ratio really provides a broad canvas and care is taken to keep the night shots within distinguishable black levels. Of course, the reds really pop as you’d expect, and no matter what type of blood we see, it’s presented to its best effect. There are also nice yellow tones, especially to the indoor nighttime shots, which camouflage the extra set lights very well.
However I have one issue with the sound. I am not sure if it’s my system but the TrueHD 5.1 offered a very soft dialogue track. Admittedly the screams are quite present and amplified nicely, and the stingers and other musical cues play well, it’s just inside the cars and when characters are deliberately speaking softly that I was losing the words. Thankfully I have two subtitle options to help me out.
The special features consist of a behind-the-scenes featurette and a DVD copy of the film. Watch it on Blu-ray, though. The issues I have with the transfer are only amplified on the DVD. I wish there was a commentary track, deleted scenes, and even more about the effects and the script included. Maybe next time.
I love No One Lives. It’s the best horror movie I’ve seen in a long time and destined for cult status. Click below and buy it today.