I’m pretty sure I’ve hit a strange place in my movie viewing decisions when I choose a movie because the main girl from Silent Hill Revelations is in it. Revelations wasn’t particularly good and I don’t even remember her being particularly good in it (Adelaine Clemens is her name in case you were curious) but when I saw her in the cast list I figured I would give this one a shot.
And what do you know, I don’t regret the decision!
No One Lives kicks off with a couple played by Luke Evans (Furious 6) and Laura Ramsey traveling across country and discussing their bluntly hinted at relationship issues. During this stage I was worried because the acting and dialogue is very, very stiff. It felt like a soap opera where we know people are having problems because of the way they point blankly talk about their problems. It was a concern for sure.
Then we’re introduced to a gang of robbers (the word robbers doesn’t sound nearly harsh enough any more, I can’t help but picture dudes from the 30’s stealing sacks with dollar bills on them, so I’m going with criminals here I guess) stealing a bunch of rich people shit. One of the guys, Flynn, fucks up in the eyes of the leader and is told to make things right or he will be ended (that’s tough guy talk for killed). After encountering the aforementioned couple at a local restaurant, Flynn decides the way to make things up to everyone will be to kidnap that couple and torture them for pin numbers and such. He successfully does so, only to quickly discover a kidnapped girl in the trunk of their car. Needless to say, shit isn’t quite as he thought and his effort to make things better just end up making things way, way worse.
Here the movie is very up front about how fucking crazy it is willing to go. I don’t want to spoil too much since there are a handful of interesting plot twists (though nothing too astounding, just to keep your expectations measured) but I will say that I knew this movie had my attention after a character uses the disembowelled body of a fat guy in order to hide. Also any movie where a character speaks into a severed ear (freshly torn of a live face no less) is probably worth a look. So yeah, if you’re looking for large quantities of blood, you won’t be disappointed but unlike something like Hatchet III, they parcel it out just enough here that it’s much more effective when someone is taken down.
The remainder of the movie plays out like a fairly typical slasher movie, where a group of characters are huddled inside of a cabin while they are picked off one by one. There are a few differences here though. The threat is known completely up front so there’s no discovery that everyone is dead and there’s a killer running around. The victims are the characters that would normally be the villains. The biggest change of formula is Clemens as “final girl” Emma. Usually a movie like this would require the girl to run around, screaming and crying and falling over. Not here though. In No One Lives, Emma has already been through so much by the time she is found in the trunk, that everything happening is standard and expected. Everyone around her is panicking as you would expect them to, but she just stands around stoically. She even states that her strategy is to wait and make her escape after a few of these guys have been killed off. It’s a nice twist on the final girl idea and gives the movie some individuality.
The killer (I’m not sure why I’m still trying not to spoil this since I don’t think the movie is even trying to hide it, but whatever) does suffer a little bit from being just too capable. He is always 100% in control of every situation and nobody ever really gets the upper hand on him, which does take quite a bit of tension out of the situation. Jump scares are minimal as well, with only a couple standing out, neither too effective.
The performances are pretty solid. Luke Goss is a little bland but I do like Clemens quite a bit and will no longer be hesitant to check out other movies based solely on her presence. Everyone else does well, switching between badass and terrified at a moment’s notice.
No One Lives is not particularly scary or tense, it’s mostly about watching a group of pretty shitty people get killed in horribly gruesome ways, but it’s got enough original ideas to make it stand-out and provide an entertaining watch. It breezes by at a quick 80 minutes so it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either, it just gets in and gets out. Worth a look.
Also I’m not proofreading these things really anymore sooooo shit is about to get interesting!