Ryuhei Kitamura first came to the Festival in 2001 with the gonzo Japanese mobster zombie cult film, Versus. Now 11 years later, he has returned with the American-made No One Lives. Although it doesn't quite match Versus for over the top insanity, it is a nice bag of chills, thrills and laughs.
A man and his girlfriend are driving long distance to a new home. Their BMW and a trailer that is obviously full of all their possessions makes them a mark for an easy robbery. Late at night on an isolated stretch, they are run off the road. While the couple are taken away for questioning about bank accounts and money, other members in the gang go through the contents of the car. To their surprise, they find a young girl bound and gagged in the trunk. She is Emma Ward and she has been missing for a year following a massacre at a college party. She warns them about the man but they don't take her seriously…and, in the end, the title says it all.
The cat and mouse story by American screenwriter David Cohen deploys many of the tropes of the genre, including a scene of a girl being chased through the woods, the employment of a woodchucker to bloody effect and a shower scene. But it also adds a neat helping of new ideas and a generous dollop of humour. Luke Evans as the man is disturbingly likeable. Derek Magyar plays the cold-blooded loose cannon in the robbery gang with gusto. Aussie actress Adelaide Clemens is enigmatic as the chilly-eyed kidnapping victim.
Kitamura approaches this film with energy and enthusiasm. Although the second half does not quite build on the jumps and screams of the first half, the film is still an entertaining ride that turns the genre on its side. Imagination and a sly wink at the slasher film make this a fun late night popcorn movie.
No One Lives
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Principal Cast: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Derek Magyar
Monday September 10th. Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7, 9:45pm
Friday September 14th. Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 6, 4:45pm
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.