We are going to be seeing a lot of Luke Evans soon. The actor, who starred with John Cusack in The Raven last year, was recently cast in upcoming remakes of Dracula and The Crow. In the short term, though, Evans can be seen in No One Lives, the latest offering from Midnight Meat Train director Ryuhei Kitamura. It opens on VOD and in 50 theaters nationwide on Friday.
In the credits he is Driver, but in the movie Evans doesn’t have a name. Along with his girlfriend Betty (Laura Ramsey), he is “relocating,” driving through back roads with a small trailer in tow. They are having serious issues with hints of an affair. Betty makes a few references to another woman and he swears that there is no one else for him. Tension is in the air as the couple stops at a cheap motel to rest for the night.
Betty catches a glimpse of a news story in their room. A hunter found something carved into a tree indicating that a missing heiress could still be alive. Emma (Adelaide Clemens) went missing from a college party about 8 months prior. 14 of her friends were slaughtered that night and she was the only survivor. Police hope there is still time to find her alive.
Meanwhile, a band of moderately hapless criminals led by Hoag (Lee Tergesen, recently seen in The Collection) is in the process of robbing a rich family when they are suddenly interrupted by said family. Flynn (Derek Magyar), the one with the itchy trigger finger and short fuse, decides to murder the family as they sit in their car in the driveway. The gang quickly makes a break for it without any loot.
Wouldn’t you know, that night the couple just happens to end up at the same restaurant as the criminals. Flynn takes a liking to Betty, which does not sit well with her boyfriend. Much blood will be shed. To say more might spoil some of the fun.
Some reviews from fans of the genre have been exceptionally harsh. It’s true that No One Lives is far from a masterpiece, but it’s hard to imagine how it would set horror back a decade. It is gleefully brutal and unrestrained, and it definitely delivers the goods.
Speaking of the goods, the real stars are Robert Hall and his team at Almost Human. Their work is nothing short of remarkable. A person hides inside a dead body, a head turns into a pumpkin being smashed due to a shotgun blast from close range, an ear is severed in some sort of heavy machinery. If nothing else, it is worth watching just as a showcase for Hall’s effects. For those who enjoy their gore practical, it is a sight to see.
No One Lives does have its problems. The script is pretty bad and the endless bickering among the criminals is quite irritating. There is also what might be a record for onscreen screaming and it grates the ears (even if there is good reason to scream). Also Evans is offscreen for long stretches and his presence is missed.
Even if it’s nothing to write home about, at 78 minutes sans credits and with plenty of over-the-top carnage that will have you squirming, this is mindless entertainment done right. It gets the job done quickly and effectively before calling it a day. Sometimes that’s all one can ask for.