There's a good chance you've never seen or even heard of the 2012 horror film No One Lives, but you absolutely should check it out. Sure, the film received little to no promotion ahead of its release and was a huge box-office flop as a result, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's a pretty solid slasher-thriller.
With disgustingly realistic VFX, a slasher you can't help but root for played by Luke Evans, and a unique twist, No One Lives is a bloody good time that deserves to be remembered.
Prior to No One Lives, Luke Evans could be seen in black comedies and action films. He co-starred in Fast & Furious 6, played the main love interest in indie movie Tamara Drewe, and starred as a private investigator in The Raven, just to name a few. This time around, Evans plays a low-key serial killer with a hidden agenda.
It's quite the departure from the typical hunk, or mercenary Owen Shaw, but Evans saw the Driver as a "tortured soul," one whom he could actually identify with. The Driver is motivated by love, which Evans completely understood, making for a truly chilling portrayal of a ruthless antihero.
In fact, Evans is almost too good at it, delivering these strange, pseudo-philosophical monologues to his targets with an eerily calm voice and a cold stare. One has to wonder why we aren't casting Evans as the bad-guy-who's-kinda-good in every slasher film.
Japanese director Ryûhei Kitamura, known for making highly stylized action films, had his first mainstream success in 2000 with Versus, a zombie action film that takes place somewhere deep in the forests of Japan. He went on to direct the 29th installment of the Godzilla franchise (which he considered "a great honor").
In 2008, the director made his American film debut with The Midnight Meat Train, an adaptation of Clive Barker's short story. For his cinematographer, he chose Daniel Pearl, the master of horror photography who shot the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As a result, No One Lives was shot on film using Super-16 equipment to give it a dark, gritty look.
Spoiler alert: The twist is awesome.
At first, the Driver and Betty (Laura Ramsey) appear to be a sweet, innocent couple captured by a group of bad guys - a formula we've seen in cinema time and time again. It seems like the setup for a thriller like Eden Lake, where we follow a couple running for their lives for 90 minutes.
However, when bad guy Flynn (Derek Magyar) goes out to inspect the couple's car, he pops open the trunk to reveal a tied-up young girl - the same girl we saw run for her life during the film's opening. Yeah. The captured is actually a capturer himself, who is way, way more sadistic than the antagonists could ever even dream of being.
When the captured woman (Adelaide Clemens), a missing heiress by the name of Emma Ward, initially tells the group that Ethan (Brodus Clay) is already slain and that the Driver will end them all, they don't believe her - until they find their buddy Ethan has been split open.
This is when it really hits the fan, and the real plot of the movie is revealed: This is villain versus villain, a test to see who can slay the other first.
Evans says it best: "This is a quintessential popcorn slasher film by a director who utilizes every element of the genre to the extreme."
Deciding that her life with the Driver is too much for her to bear, Betty willingly impales herself. Not something you see in an average slasher flick. After the gang discovers they're dealing with a psycho, they immediately go on the hunt - but they can't find him. After leaving Ethan's body alone in the garage, the Driver emerges - not from under a table or behind a barrel, but from inside Ethan himself. The Driver, soaked in a coat of blood so thick it could make a squeamish viewer gag, simply slicks his hair back and smiles.
The Driver also physically antagonizes Hoag by dunking his head into a mechanism of rapidly moving gears. After he's done with Hoag, he delivers what's left of him back to the group in a bag.
Poor Denny (Beau Knapp) survives the whole head-to-the-car-engine thing, only for the Driver to sneak into the hospital room and take him out with a plastic clipboard.