Monday, May 20, 2013

NO ONE LIVES (2012) movie review

No One Lives (2012) d. Kitamura, Ryuhei (USA)

Fresh off a bungled looting expedition, a skeevy band of crooks led by Lee Tergesen and Derek Magyar cross paths at a Pacific Northwest diner with mysterious road-tripping couple Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey. Looking to come home with something instead of nothing, the villains concoct a half-baked kidnapping scheme...unawares that Evans is a notorious psychopath with his latest victim (Adelaide Clemens) still stashed – and alive – in the back of his car.

Co-produced by WWE Films (yep, the wrestling folks – Brodus Clay features prominently as one of the gang), we’re talking pretty lowest common denominator material here, which is not inherently a bad thing. Yes, the expletive-rich dialogue is crap and first timer David Lawrence Cohen’s flimsy plot never gets deeper than the elevator pitch above, but f/x man Robert Hall’s imaginative and applause-worthy gore set pieces are bound to please the film’s intended target audience. (The "birthing" sequence with Evans and Clay is a bona-fide winner.) Problem is the splatter isn’t enough to carry the load and, like Hall’s own Laid to Rest films, the whole enterprise could have done with a truckload more fun.

Outside of the kinetic opening sequence, Kitamura (Versus, Midnight Meat Train) curiously refrains from his trademark camera gymnastics, an element that would have helped smooth over the leaps in logic that Evans’ unstoppable killer presents wading through his ill-equipped quarry. Good sport America Olivo proffers a brief top-rope catfight with Clemens (one that smacks of the producers saying, “Hey, there’s no body slams!”) as well as some requisite top-popping in a late-stage shower sequence (one that smacks of the same producers saying, “Hey, there’s no boobs!”) The end result is a coldly calculated, greasy roadside cheeseburger of a film that serves the turn without being memorable or distinctive.


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