No One Lives

The high-octane, B-movie splatterfest that is Kitamura’s No One Lives is built around a high concept, and while not really a twist-based film, you may wish to see it cold for maximum pleasure. What you need to know is that it is an incredibly tight 86 minutes of amoral violence, gore and nihilism that hits the exploitation sweet spot so many aim for and miss.

A well-heeled couple are driving on a quiet rural US backroad with a trailer hooked to the back of a shiny BMW – just passing through, as they say. Resting overnight at a motel, they head out to the only dive-bar-slash-diner in town and attract the attention of the Hoag family, a degenerate clan of redneck scumbags who live a life of bottom-feeding violent crime. Assuming the tourists have valuable belongings in their trailer and fat bank accounts to plunder, Flynn the most hot-headed of the oxycontin mafia, takes it upon himself to waylay them on their return to the motel.

No One Lives looks like it is heading for well-trodden torture porn territory, but the tables are about to turn. A secret compartment is discovered in the back of the BMW containing Emma (Clemens), a terrified girl who shrieks "please tell me you killed him!"

You see, they haven’t got a yuppie tied up in the garage; they have a mass-murderer who combines the skill sets of Jason Bourne and Hannibal Lecter. Yep, it’s the immovable rednecks vs the unstoppable serial killer, and from this point on it’s full-on carnage.

Screenwriter Cohen’s deceptively straightforward plot and often hilariously perfunctory dialogue hides a rather clever piece of grungy pulp fiction which disguises an action movie within the carcass of a slasher film. From early on the rules of the game are established. Anyone can die, and die horribly, and therein lies much of the fun.

The grindhouse feel is perfectly captured by ace cinematographer Daniel Pearl shooting on 16mm. Pearl shot the original Tobe Hooper directed Texas Chain Saw Massacre and no-one knows how to make grunge look strikingly artistic any better than he does. A nearly perfect B-movie, No One Lives is completely successful at what it sets out to do. No One Lives is easily one of the best horror thrillers of 2013.

No One Lives

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