sun 25/08/2019

No One Lives | reviews, news & interviews

No One Lives

No One Lives

A wannabe new horror franchise that's carelessly sick and slickly exciting

Nowhere to run: one of Driver's victims makes her hopeless escape

“Hannibal Lecter meets Jason Bourne”: that’s how director Ryuhei Kitamura unbeatably sells No One Lives’ indestructible serial killer hero. But his film is at its most interesting before it’s clear who Driver (Luke Evans, pictured below) is, or where we stand with anything that’s happening.

We meet this coldly urbane charmer as he motors through the American South, checking into a motel with a woman with an ambiguous relationship to him – maybe an accomplice to the murders glimpsed on TV, and certainly jealous of another woman who, we eventually discover, is being transported in the boot of his car, having been hunted and recaptured in the film’s opening minutes in a sort of human safari, despite the admirable resourcefulness of her intended escape. This is Emma (Adelaide Clemens), the captive love of Driver’s life.

We’re meanwhile introduced to another, less appealing bunch of murderers, the Hoags, who, thanks to the hair-trigger attitude of the family’s wildest son, Flynn (Derek Magyar), massacre some innocents, their patriarch only regretting the lack of criminal professionalism. When these reprobates happen upon Driver and his motel partner in their regular bar, they see a smart yuppie couple to be toyed with. A further run-in on the road makes Driver and his woman the Hoags’ apparently helpless, tethered victims. They soon find Emma, too, who contemptuously lets them know that it’s they who are the prey of a tiger they’ve grabbed by the tail, as Driver proceeds to demonstrate in giddily gory set-pieces, most memorably hiding inside a Hoag’s gutted body, which he peels his way out of as his calculated rampage begins.

Lecter famously hid beneath the scalped face of a victim in The Silence of the Lambs, of course. Kitamura’s instinct, much like Driver’s, is to top everything that’s come before. Helped by the sexy, charismatic sophistication of Welshman Evans (a rising star in The Hobbit and Tamara Drewe), and the equal strength of Clemens as Emma (pictured below), you can’t help watching on.

The whole premise is dubious, if you want to think about it. American crime writer and anti-paedophile lawyer and campaigner Andrew Vachss railed to me 20 years ago about the cinematic glamorisation of serial killers, who he knew from deep experience as irredeemable predators. That was before Thomas Harris turned his cunning villain Lecter into an anti-hero whose appeal shows no sign of flagging, and the ongoing TV adventures of the unlikely Dexter, a serial killer with a moral compass. Only the almost unbearably gruelling Australian film Snowtown has managed to truly deglamorise the subject and convey its authentic horror.

The untroubled relish with which Kitamura approaches his “hero” is shown by his statement that Emma “does love Driver in some twisted way”, a sick romance disbelieved by the actress playing her, Clemens, who more realistically says “she’s been accustomed to his emotional and physical abuse”. Kitamura is so in love with Driver he finally strips him of mystery and threat, and the Bourne action movie element of his equation distracts from the horror, too. But as a foot-to-the-floor thrill ride, this works.

Overleaf: Watch the trailer for No One Lives

Driver memorably hides inside a gutted body, which he peels his way out of as his rampage begins

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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