An icy American splatter flick from Japanese director Ryûhei Kitamura.
He’s a “total psychopath”, known only as Driver. He butchers his way through a family of idiotic murderers and thieves who are very much mistaken in their assumption he’s some timid schmuck on a road trip with his girlfriend. Wrong. This character, played by Luke Evans, is actually an ice-cold killer and one of America’s most wanted.
Ryûhei Kitamura’s latest movie, No One Lives is a no-holds-barred black comedy featuring the most cocksure American psycho since Patrick Bateman. The set-pieces are genuinely unpleasant, as befitting any splatter-orientated flick worth its salt, but the jokey tone does help to soften the frenzied violence. Murder, here, is a man’s sport and Kitamura breathlessly executes his movie’s agenda with an efficiency that mirrors the lead character’s own grim modus operandi. The mad pace never flags and an anarchic spirit ensures that whether it’s a shotgun blast to the face, decapitation by clipboard or one unfortunate dude being fed into a hay bailer, the attitude to homicide is the same: totally hilarious.
The representation of Driver as a mythical criminal is the film’s most clever aspect. Although he operates with the lethal stealth of a classic slasher movie villain, he’s much more akin to Louis Feuillade’s evil genius, Fantômas, sans wardrobe of masterful disguises. The surrealistic brazenness and sheer enthusiasm for crime is something that unites these crooks across cinematic time. Evans’ brooding, Terminator-like strut suits the part well.
Kitamura is a director with imagination, but the sacrificing of depth for generic gory kicks is a real shame. The central relationship between Driver and kidnapped heiress Emma (Adelaide Clemens) enters tantalisingly gothic territory. Yet this dark, inviting vein is overlooked in favour of getting on with the next elaborate murder scene before anybody accuses this WWE production of being too intelligent.
The Midnight Meat Train was ace.
Kitamura’s second American horror film just about passes muster.
Like black pudding, No One Lives is an acquired taste.