TIFF Review Roundup: "No One Lives"

Review: Two Arts Journalism graduate students offer their reviews of the upcoming slasher flick from WWE Studios.

The 2012-2013 Arts Journalism cohort had a chance to see a Toronto International Film Festival "Midnight Madness" screening of the latest horror film from "The Midnight Meat Train" director Ryuhei Kitamura. Presented here are two of their reviews.

The straight-forward title is a telling foray into the style of narrative one can expect from No One Lives. The characters, plot development, and overall story serve as almost non-existent framework for the excessive violence on screen. In fact, the story just barely serves as an excuse for killing people with meat grinders, handcuffs, running engines, shotguns and clipboards. David Cohen (writer) scarcely gives enough information to transition from one gruesome slaying to the other.

The script of the film leaves a lot of questions for viewers. However, it’s these questions and nonsensical murders that lend to the comedic elements of the film. With the incomplete sentences, snide remarks and asides from the characters, and straight faces through terrifying scenes, this film is a lot funnier than brutally killing people should be.

No One Lives is definitely not for the faint-at-heart as barely a minute or two goes by without guts and blood being splayed across the screen. It’s the gruesomeness and the ever-constant gore, however, that make up for the short-comings of the film.  And granted, while it definitely isn’t Oscar-worthy, it does keeps the audience engaged and invested in the psychopathic antics of the unnamed driver played by Luke Evans. There isn’t a dull moment in the film as Ryuhei Kitamura (director, The Midnight Meat Train and Godzilla: Final Wars) essentially tells the story of how each character is killed off one by one in ways one wouldn’t think imaginable.

Overall, the director and writer definitely did crafty job of leaving the audience many unanswered questions, though, in the end, no one really cares because as the title so clearly states, No One Lives.
- Christina Riley

As director Ryuhei Kitamura introduced his latest creation at the Toronto Film Festival’s "Midnight Madness," he said, “This movie is called No One Lives, so you know I’m going to f---ing kill everybody.” The film didn’t need more of an intro than that.

No One Lives is very much a slasher flick that is guaranteed to show the inventive side of being a psychopath. In this film, exposition doesn’t matter, good acting doesn’t matter and the very present “why is this man so crazy?” really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the killer continues to deliver bloody results in new, resourceful ways.

The audience is introduced to a couple traveling somewhere, escaping from someplace for some reason. Quickly, the pair meets a murderous (but occasionally moralistic) group that rubs Driver, played by Luke Evans, the wrong way. After he has been kidnapped by the group, watched his girlfriend die and realized that the ingénue he kidnapped and hid in the trunk of his car was probably discovered, it’s go time for the good-looking murderer.

No, this information is not a spoiler, as it’s not who the murderer is that matters, it's how he kills that makes this movie notable. Kitamura, who has developed a cult following with movies such as Midnight Meat Train, knows how to excite his blood thirsty audiences. The ingenious killer does a reverse Home Alone theme on the gang and bumps them off with ambitious booby-traps.

Being a B-rate horror film, this movie falls right in line with an audience that doesn’t need anything more than monotone, one-dimensional characters or dialogue that leads nowhere. What they crave is blood and screaming. Hell, they don’t even need a good reason for a killer. When asked the classic, breathless “Why are you doing this?” Driver answered, “To stay thin.”
- Josh Austin

No One Lives is scheduled for worldwide release in January 2013.

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