No One Lives – Film Review
Adelaide Clemens is back in the horror seat, bitches.
But her parade’s at its end (ah ha!), because No One Lives is a far cry from the streamline horror pulp that was Silent Hill: Revelation.
Also, I hate Parade’s End.
TL;DR A surprisingly decent lead cast can’t rescue the mundane, pointless slasher movie this is. The gore is turned up to the right levels, but everything else is instantly forgettable. 2 out of 5 stars.
And it doesn’t even stay true to its title. Pfft.
The plot is some garbage about a roving serial killer, who we will refer to as Driver (Luke Evans). A gang of criminals attempt to kidnap and rob Driver and a female accomplice. Oops. They also discover Emma (Adelaide), a long-missing heiress, tied up in the boot. Predictably, Driver breaks free and begins picking off our crew of dipshits. Emma oscillates between antagonising the unhelpful criminals and trying to team with them to escape. After everyone else is dead, Driver and Emma have their final showdown. He defeats her, but allows her to live. Thus invalidating the title.
There’s also a thing about how he was grooming Emma to become like him or something. Didn’t work, did it?
What most disappointed me about No One Lives was how average it was. You’d think Luke Evans and Adelaide Clemens might lend themselves to something of a higher calibre, but nuh. Pure, middle-of-the-road slasher.
Why I hate this movie:
A common aspect of middle-of-the-road slashers is that the victims are usually just tossed in without much thought or development, so you don’t care what happens to them. This has been the core issue with the Wrong Turn sequels past the second one. Alternatively, if your characters aren’t likeable, at least make them distinct or memorable in some way. That’s how Sorority Row did it (Fucking. Jessica), and it was sublime.
No One Lives just gives us a ragtag bunch of cookie cutter criminals (not unlike the walking props of The Collection‘s mercenary crew). The only ones who are slightly sympathetic are the leader, who gets fed into a mincing machine very early on; and his daughter, who is played by Lindsey “Paige from PLL” Shaw. And she gets bumped off in a rather undignified manner before the final sequence, too.
The location is also boring (a semi-abandoned barn/farmhouse combo. In the woods. So edgy).
Driver’s female accomplice looks like a budget Jena Malone, which is just redundant.
The dialogue early in the movie is horrendously stilted in an obvious attempt to make Driver not look like the psychopath he’s about to be revealed to be. I don’t have a problem with the intention, because it makes sense. But fuck, that dialogue is bad.
The gang is pretty damn rude to Emma after they realise who she is. Just fucking rock out to the cop shop pronto. Instead, they sit around and assault her and stuff while they figure out how to approach it. They put revenge for Driver’s killing of the leader’s brother and their own greed (they want to extort more money from the already generous reward for Emma’s return) ahead of saving this poor girl and their own lives. Rude.
Later, after finally leaving the house, they stay at a hotel instead of GOING TO THE FUCKING POLICE.
The grooming stuff could have been interesting and fresh, but it is handled superficially both as a part of the movie (it comes up only a couple of times, and is ridiculous, too. Who cuts their own neck artery and expects a Paris Hilton expy to fix it up?) and as a part of the story (Emma don’t give a fuck).
When Amber (Lindsey) is attacked, she runs into the woods instead of into the house which is 2 metres away and has her comrades inside. Oh, honey.
Oh, and not only does the movie invalidate its title, but it reminds us of it just as it does. Driver comes to hospital to finish off the younger gang member who survived, and states “no one lives.” Then he walks out of the hospital, right past Emma. Who is, you know, alive.
Reasons to watch:
The gore factor is worth a quick squiz just on its own. After the gang leader gets all chewed up by the mincer, Driver leaves the remains in a sack at the front door. Not knowing what it is, the gang prods it and out spills a gooey torrent of daddy bits. Amber is rightly traumatised.
Adelaide Clemens has the making of a bona fide scream queen. Forgive my Scream fangirling, but she has a real Neve Campbell quality about her. It’s a wetness in the eyes or something, but it really sells her as a stoic final girl.
it also helps that Emma is a total badass, and easily matches fighting skills with the crooks and with Driver.
The final showdown between Driver and Emma is cool. The crazy criminal (the evil one) is run over at the motel, but survives. He tries to duel with Driver before he can attack Emma. Emma’s not having any of that shit, and knocks Crazy Horse out so she can kill Driver herself. Mmm.
One of Crazy Horse’s lines to Emma involves the phrase “pretty little lies.” I like to think they included that just because Lindsey Shaw is in the movie. And if it’s a coincidence, holy shit.
And Lindsey Shaw sure can scream. It’s handy.
The first time we meet the gang they’re in the middle of robbing a rich family’s house. The family unexpectedly returns home, so Crazy Horse shoots them the fuck up. It’s bloody. Bloody great.
Amber recognises who Emma is because she’s a binge reality TV watcher. It’s nice to see my lifestyle validated.
Driver hides inside one of the victim’s bodies to gain access to the hideout. Very Star Wars.
Best line goes to Driver:
Amber: “Why are you doing this?”
Driver: “It keeps me fit.”
Admittedly, it does sound better than jogging.
Oh, and as much as I’ve complained about the title being invalidated, I do like it when a final girl actually survives. Because where would I be without my hypocrisy?
Adelaide and Luke are slumming it (Lindsey needs to take what she can get), but it’s under 90 minutes, the gore is there, and there is a minimum of pretentious wanking. It’s the bare minimum to be a satisfying slasher. And that’s okay. 2 out of 5 stars.