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No One Lives(2012)
The film follows a gang of ruthless highway killers who kidnap a wealthy couple traveling cross country only to shockingly discover that things are not what they seem.
For more about No One Lives and the No One Lives Blu-ray release, see No One Lives Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 20, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Derek Magyar, America Olivo, Lindsey Shaw
Director: Ryűhei Kitamura
» See full cast & crew
No One Lives Blu-ray Review
Well, that was at least...different.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 20, 2013
Don't make the mistake of labeling No One Lives as "just another Horror movie." It certainly plays with classic "Slasher" elements and embraces the modern Horror staple of excess gore and, usually, gore for gore's sake, but to call the picture a straight genre film would be to miss the point. What that point is isn't so clear, however, but one thing that is for certain is that No One Lives largely charts its own course through the murky waters of modern lower budget fare and gives an honest go at formulating a new dynamic, even if it embraces old pieces. The picture is largely a product of its tables-turned plot switch-a-roo, a single shakeup in how these things are normally done to interest and, more importunity, invigorate its viewers beyond standard trope. And, surprisingly, that's enough. Whether that's because everything else in these sorts of movies is so stale or the film actually paints a picture worth seeing is up in the air, but cases may be made for both. The novelty brings an added edge, removing the usual audience anticipation, immediately canceling out the audience's preconditioning to accept convention and instead expect the unexpected. What's better is that No One Lives actually works that dynamic to its favor, elevating it beyond gimmick and into something worth watching develop, even in all its gruesome goodness (or nastiness, depending on one's perspective).
A young girl is snared in a trap while fleeing for her life. Her disappearance is making news, and is particularly noteworthy in the local Spokane area where she disappeared and evidence shows she still may be alive. The story is of particular note to a young couple (Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey) on the road, lodging in a low-rent motel, and apparently working through relationship problems. Meanwhile, and nearby, a band of robbers are caught raiding an upper-class home. Violence ensues, leaving the homeowners dead. Their paths cross with the young couple at a bar later that night. The meeting is anything but cordial, and the couple is ultimately kidnapped. Little do the robbers realize, however, that they're not dealing with any ordinary hostages, that a night of what should be quick riches is about to devolve into the messiest bloodbath they could possibly imagine.
There are really only two things that make No One Lives worth a movie watcher's time: the original plot twist and the gore. As for the former first, it comes unexpectedly and early, shaking up the audience and completely reconfiguring expectations for the film. It's successful for two reasons. First is the unexpectedness -- it's a true "left field" sort of moment -- and second, and perhaps more importantly, is how well the movie sets things up to play to the status quo only to shatter the illusion and comfort. It builds traditional narrative structures, inside of which are typical protagonists and antagonists, albeit protagonists and antagonists with subtly different auras to them, mysteries that aren't made obvious but that make much more sense from the time of the transition on forward. The "tables turned" novelty helps mask the film's additional shortcomings, including unimaginative dialogue, shaky character motivations, and substandard acting. It also contributes in a positive way to the already effective dark and unforgiving atmosphere that helps establish the sense of chaotic dread and violence that permeates every scene.
Then there's the film's gore, a parade of violence and a saturation of blood quite unlike anything else out there. It's not as stupidly brutal as some films nor as purely intense as others, but the combination of excess and the graphic nature of it all will leave many unsettled. It pushes the boundaries of realism, never mind taste, when a character emerges from a hiding place that's, well, that's certainly not expected. It's the film's signature shot and a bloody unforgettable one at that. No One Lives never quite finds the perfect balance between its visual excesses and the story, however. It often feels more grotesque because it can be grotesque, not necessarily because a scene demands so much grotesqueness. That's the film's main problem, encapsulated. There's a strong twist and a decent story to accompany it, but there's a feeling of the best pieces taking a backseat to the lesser pieces. Fortunately, what the film gets right is enough to carry it, even when it's weighed down quite heavily by its ancillary pieces. The film could use more balance, but for a novelty aimed at audiences who appreciate a good bloodbath and an unexpected early twist, No One Lives makes for a must-see movie.
No One Lives Blu-ray, Video Quality
No One Lives features a well-defined texture sourced from a 16mm print. There's a moderate grain structure that accentuates a rather beautiful image defined largely by shadows and inhospitable locations, often saturated in blood. Clarity is excellent, showcasing sharp details with only minor instances of softness in some shots. Facial textures are of a particularly high quality, revealing intimate details in every close-up. The color palette is bland by design, and necessarily so given the overwhelming darkness in the film. Blood red and a few other, brighter colors do stand apart, but mostly the film is awash in dreary shades with little life. Skin tones, however, appear naturally strong while black levels are deep and accurate. This is a clean image, sourced from a quality print with no immediately evident flaws. This is a high quality effort from Anchor Bay.
No One Lives Blu-ray, Audio Quality
No One Lives comes alive on Blu-ray with a rock-solid and dependable (sounds like a pickup truck) Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack that, what the heck, gets good mileage out of every sequence (only at your local home theater, not your neighborhood Ford store). Musical delivery is strongly implemented with natural clarity, wide spacing, and an honest surround support element. Additionally, the low end adds a necessary, balanced heft to the proceedings. The track reveals mood-critical ambience nicely, particularly background effects such as nighttime crickets or dripping water and deadly spinning machinery in dank, depressed locations. The track springs to life with its heavier action sound effects. Gunfire, what little bit there is, jumps out of the speakers with positive heft and accuracy. An explosion powers into the stage with excellent low end support. No surprise, dialogue is delivered firmly and clearly from the center. This track might not be all that memorable, but it delivers the film's needs exceptionally well.
No One Lives Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No One Lives contains only one featurette. From the Script to the Crypt (HD, 27:42) is a rather engaging supplement that features cast and crew discussing the project's origins, the collection of people that came together to make the film happen behind the camera, the extreme violence in the movie with emphasis on the copious amounts of blood in the picture and gory makeup and prosthetics, the casting process and the performances, shooting the film's most extreme action scenes, Ryűhei Kitamura's direction, and more. A DVD copy of the film is included alongside the Blu-ray in the case.
No One Lives Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
No One Lives isn't cinema as high art. It's not even all that noteworthy beyond its brutality and eagerness to display carnage in all its nastiness, except for a quality twist that redirects the movie from an average tale of Horror/Survival into something rather unique that leaves the audience uncertain of what to expect, not sure what outcome to want, and uncomfortable in a movie that convention says should fit like a well-worn glove. The picture has its flaws, but it has its positives, too. Gore aficionados will never forget the picture's trademark scene, and curious audiences who can stomach the carnage will find a movie in which convention is turned on its head. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of No One Lives features high quality video and audio. Supplements are limited to a single featurette, but it's a good one. Recommended to appropriate audiences, but certainly not recommended to those with an aversion to on-screen brutality.
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• No One Lives Blu-ray - June 11, 2013
Anchor Bay Films and WWE Studios are bringing No One Lives to Blu-ray this Summer. The thriller was helmed by Midnight Meat Train and Versus director Ryűhei Kitamura, and stars Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, America Olivio, ...
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