Most bad horror movies usually have something of a coherent story, no matter how simplistic or derivative. There’s usually a clear villain with a specific motive, a bunch of archetypical victims they ultimately knock off and the final girl who almost always survives the nightmare after vanquishing the threat.
The violently stupid No One Lives is not your typically bad horror movie. In fact, I defy anyone to make sense of it or even endure its utter unpleasantness.
A young American college student (British actress Adelaide Clemens) survives a sorority massacre and disappears. We first see her in a forest running away barefoot and in her underwear screaming like a maniac. She doesn’t get very far, thanks to getting caught in a trap. Before being recaptured she manages to carve out “Emma Alive” on a tree which gives the authorities and her worried family hope.
Watching a TV news update of the story in a cheap motel room is a couple in crisis. The man (Luke Evans) apparently has been unfaithful to his girlfriend (Laura Ramsay). She has a scar on her belly. While kissing it, he apologizes “for everything” to which she points out his complete lack of emotion. She openly ponders why he can’t be normal. Two big red flags. You start to wonder why she is with him in the first place. Neither sounds remotely enthusiastic about being in this relationship (and in this movie, for that matter). A little later on, we find out the source of their “tension”. Unlike me at the time, you’ve probably already figured it out.
Meanwhile, the dumbest band of house thieves run into an unexpected snag during a daytime heist. The family that was supposed to be on vacation while their all valuable possessions are being cleared out are suddenly arriving home early. One of the thieves (Derek Magyar) defies his boss (Lee Tergesen) by shooting the dad, the mom and their teenage son to death. (Boss man wanted to talk to them first. Was he planning to pretend on being a repo guy? Like that’s credible.) All they really had to do was pack up whatever they already managed to steal and just drive away in time, but no, that would make too much sense.
They eventually drive to Helen’s Steakhouse where the couple in crisis just happen to be dining. This is the kind of place that only exists in the movies. The only patrons are these characters. You wonder how they stay open the rest of the time. The murderous thief starts harassing the couple which, as it turns out, is his second mistake. Mistake number three involves kidnapping them and stealing their car.
Former WWE wrestler Brodus Clay is assigned the ugly task of torturing them but he thankfully doesn’t get very far. In fact, the mysterious man’s girlfriend does his job for him. Inexplicably, she suddenly decides to put her neck right through his knife. That’s one way to get out of a terrible movie. Her suddenly distraught boyfriend (His first emotion! Yay!) takes advantage of a distracted Clay to prepare for his first kill since the college massacre. Whoops. Yep, that’s right. He’s the missing college student’s captor as the murderous thief discovers while simultaneously rooting through the couple’s not so valuable car belongings. I was too bored and irritated to guess this ahead of time.
Now being held captive by these idiotic thieves, the college student warns them about what’s to come. Do they listen? Of course not. In one of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever seen, after two of the thieves go to check on Clay (who isn’t responding to their calls) and move his enormous dead body to an abandoned barn, all of a sudden it comes to life. The mysterious man, now completely drenched in Clay’s blood, actually hid inside it, completely undetected, an even less believable moment than him eliminating the massive Funkasaurus in the first place.
From there, things get even dumber. One of the thieves recognizes the college student from a tabloid TV show where we learn her family has offered a 2 million dollar reward for her safe return. Now, I don’t know about you, but if it was me I would do everything in my power to protect this young woman from danger. And I would start by getting the hell out of there immediately. What do these embarrassing imbeciles do? They dick around too much, curse at each other constantly (there’s even an impromptu fight) and routinely threaten the college student. The boss orders her killed if she tries to flee. How are you supposed to collect the reward if she’s dead, stupid?
The college student doesn’t have much choice, anyway. Her dull, emotionless, relentless captor is out there. She seems to be the only one who can see him lingering rather openly outside their makeshift hideout. (He’s an appallingly lame anti-hero in so many ways.) As the body count quickly climbs (the murder scenes are extremely gruesome), eventually the surviving thieves are on the run with the poor college student, the object of her captive’s deep affections.
Oh yes. I forgot to mention that the mysterious man of the aforementioned couple in crisis has some kind of weird fixation on her that’s never ever properly explained. (She has scars, too, like the dead, jealous girlfriend.) In a very silly flashback, he tests her “loyalty”. After giving her a quick tutorial on how to stop a serious wound from bleeding profusely, he proceeds to slice his neck. Instead of making a run for it, she stops the bleeding altogether. (Beforehand, he dusts off the old “if I die, you die” routine to keep her in line.) Now back to his indifferent self again, he casually points out that she was never actually locked up in this room. She could’ve walked out at any time and left him to croak. She saved him because she wanted to, he claims with a straight face. Ain’t love by coercion grand?
By the time we reach the end of this suspenseless, blood-soaked, low-budget shitberg, we’re supposed to care about one sociopath doing battle with another as the college student sticks around to watch the hard to follow fight choreography instead of getting the fuck out of there. No, she can’t let mysterious thief take out her captor. That’s her job, goddamnit! Oh, for fuck sakes.
I haven’t seen every WWE Studios film production, only a handful or so as of this writing, but No One Lives is the worst one by far. Even the dreadful See No Evil with Kane isn’t as off-putting as this insulting garbage. And it was quite off-putting in its own right. (The Call is the closest the company has ever come to making a good one but I can’t recommend it either despite having some affection for it.)
The dialogue is terrible. When it’s not overwritten and clunky, it’s soulless and forgettable. The wooden, disjointed performances are even worse. There are no scares, just horrifically bloody murders that feel more at home in a snuff film locked up in the evidence room of a police precinct.
There is no point. There are no characters to care about. There is nothing.
Dumped into a few theatres in the Spring of 2013 before its immediate home video release (I’m amazed it came out at all), No One Lives will not be remembered as a classic, as its pretentiously deluded filmmakers are hoping. Instead, it’ll serve as a welcome reminder that WWE Studios should stop making bad horror movies forever more.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 10, 2016