No One Lives (2012) is an American horror film directed by Rhuhei Kitamura which is gripping right from the start. A group of backwards bandits are filled with regret when they chose to victimise a couple that is not as helpless as they seem. The plot twists are enticing, even though it seems inevitable that the film’s ending ultimately lives up to its title.
The film plays on our fears of losing control over a situation, as well as being trapped and at the mercy of an individual who cannot be reasoned or sympathised with; a mind that simply works in a different way to ours. The main character of this story (simply referred to as “Driver;” Luke Evans), is travelling across the country with his girlfriend Betty (Laura Ramsey) when they encounter the unfortunate bandits. Confusingly, we actually feel sorry for the couple as they are being terrorised by this gang, although we suspect Driver of some darker and more manipulative traits, we observe that he genuinely has caring emotions towards Betty despite it being obvious that he seductively manipulates her.
The group of bandits observe this connection between the couple, and on the suspicion of them being wealthy, misfit of the group Flynn (Derek Magyar) decides to kidnap them. However, this plan goes awry when Betty commits suicide by gorily pressing her neck onto the knife captive Ethan (Brodus Clay) was only holding towards her as a threat, and Driver frees himself from his handcuffs in an attempt to save her. Driver then unleashes a scary rage and unrelenting act of terror towards the group responsible for their kidnap, manipulatively picking of each member of the group in a unique and horrifying manner. Meanwhile, protagonist Emma (Adelaide Clemens) is discovered by the remaining group of bandits in the trunk of Driver’s car.
The film successfully develops the idea that we can have sympathetic protagonists. It also guides us in the direction that evil turns out to be good, and the good turns out to be evil. No One Lives (2012) seems as though it is heading in that direction: until it abruptly does not. Instead there is a fight of serious evil and “normal” evil. The result is a slick and polished slasher film which is absolutely scary as the extreme anti- hero Driver knows no limitations, boundaries or moral code; his only focus is his objective of revenge without care of hurting other innocent people. Sure, he has emotions of grief towards his dead girlfriend, and even love towards his captive Emma, but he does not expect such feelings to get in the way of his objectives.
The film certainly is not everyone, especially those faint at heart, but it is still very much a work of art. Although it is obvious from the beginning that most of the characters are going to die, questions about the ending remain: How are they going to die? Is Emma going to work with or against the bandits? Is she really under the influence of Driver? What will Driver ultimately decide Emma’s fate is in the end? If rampage and vengeance films appeal to you, you will not go wrong watching this film.
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