A2Z Analysiz: No One Lives (Luke Evans, Brodus Clay)

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DVD Release Date: August 20, 2013

For me, horror films are a tough genre to stand out in. Every year more horror films and sequels come to theaters or straight-to-video and it’s hard to keep them all straight, let alone remember specific plot points and visuals.

Then along comes a movie like “No One Lives.” Without the backing of WWE Studios, there’s no way I would’ve made an effort to see this movie. So, I certainly went in with low expectations. Surprise, surprise, “No One Lives” turned out to be an entertaining gore-fest with a good lead performance from Luke Evans (who would go on to play Gaston in the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast”).

The film opens with a man (Evans, only credited as “Driver”) and his girlfriend, Betty (Laura Ramsey) driving along the highway and deciding to pull over at a hotel for the night. The hotel clerk (Gary Grubbs) makes note of Driver’s unusual name, so I was expecting it to be revealed at some point, but alas, not the case.

Driver and Betty run afoul of a gang in a bad mood from an earlier failed robbery. The gang includes singularly named bad guys such as Hoag (Lee Tergesen), Flynn (Derek Magyar), Tamara (America Olivo), Denny (Beau Knapp), Amber (Lindsey Shaw), and Ethan (WWE superstar at the time Brodus Clay). This is a robust roster of scumbags to go along with Driver and Betty, and I think it’s fair to say that the film’s title isn’t just a clever name.

Director Ryûhei Kitamura (“The Midnight Meat Train”), working from a script by David Lawrence Cohen (his first), throws an early curveball by flipping the expectation of who would be fulfilling the promise of the title. I won’t spoil it here, but I would expect that even slightly seasoned filmgoers won’t be entirely shocked.

But the important thing about the early “twist” is that it makes sense and it works, as opposed to genre buddy “High Tension.” Much of the gore is creative and gross, and at a scant 85 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Modest expectations likely played a part here, but “No One Lives” was a surprisingly solid slasher flick.

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