Cast: Luke Evans, Lee Tergesen, Adelaide Clemens, Derek Maygar, Laura Ramsey
Running time: 86mins
The lowdown: The Midnight Meat Train director Ryuhei Kitamura delivers a frenzied slice of red n’ raw horror with this psycho smackdown. After Drive and How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Luke Evans is another character named Driver, receiving unwanted attention from a violent redneck gang. When they kidnap his girl, Driver unleashes merry Hell in a manner reminiscent of Rambo crossed with Saw’s Jigsaw. Throwaway for sure, but a tasty treat for those craving fast food carnage.
The full verdict: Ryuhei Kitamura first came to international intention with feature debut Versus, a wild and wildly uneven “Gangsters vs. Evil Dead in the woods” movie. His kinetic style infused follow-up works included female samurai blast Azumi and a Godzilla instalment, Final Wars.
Surprising then that Kitamura’s English language debut was the sombre The Midnight Mean Train, an underrated chiller boasting effective turns from a pre-fame Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones (no, really).
Here’s hoping the Japanese director will return to the atmosphere and style of TMMT soon, but in the meantime No One Lives proves he hasn’t forgotten how to dance with his camera in the charnel house.
Riffing on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2’s conceit of what if the good guy was as nuts as the psychos; this is a must for lovers of messy booby traps and well-executed splatter.
Evans makes for a chillingly charismatic anti-hero, more adept at dealing death and destruction that his would-be tormentors, while Tergesen and Maygar are good redneck foil. Clemens’ hostage is on hand to provide back story on Driver’s killer credentials and Ramsey is good in a bit of misdirection as his girl.
First time writer David Cohen has fun with horror movie conventions – a city boy terrorising rednecks on their own turf with tools Leatherface would die for, a kidnap victim who may prefer her stalker to potential saviours – and is inventive with the bloodletting, particularly in the oft-noted “bodybag scene”.
No One Lives pretty accurately sums it up, but no horror fan leaves shortchanged.