The other best thing you’ll see all week: No One Lives

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No One Lives is so obvious and predictable. A couple is passing through. They stop for dinner and get waylaid by a band of murderous thugs. You can see where this is going. The couple is going to have to fight to survive. There will be screaming and stabbings and whatnot.

But it makes an early misstep that doesn’t bode well. There’s a serious problem with the casting. The most psycho of the thugs sits down at the table to intimidate the couple. The thug is played by a pretty TV actor who’s shaved his head to look hard. And the man in the couple is played by Luke Evans. The chiseled god-like Luke Evans who has played Zeus, Apollo, and the best Musketeer. As the lightweight TV actor attempts to cow him, it becomes clear Evans’ is going to have to defend himself. His fingers inch tentatively towards a steak knife on the table.

“Don’t,” his girlfriend says softly. They don’t want any trouble.

“Yeah, don’t,” says the pretty TV actor. “You’re not the type. Trust me. I know the type.”

But Evans, as an actor, is totally the type. He played Zeus, Apollo, and the best Musketeer. He has faced down boys as pretty as Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 6. He would eat this latest guy for breakfast. He wouldn’t take any guff from him and he certainly wouldn’t need to fumble for a steak knife to do it. Who does this movie think it’s fooling?

Me, for one. Because No One Lives isn’t obvious at all. It’s an entertaining danse macabre of reversals and unexpected turns, and it’s cast very well. Among the other actors is the always reliable Lee Tergesen as the aggrieved leader of the thugs. Lindsey Shaw, who voiced the wholesome Trip opposite Andy Serkis in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, talks about someone getting a “deep dicking” and then engages in a very unladylike fight scene with Bitch Slap’s America Olivo. Michelle Williams doppleganger Adelaide Clemens is a formidable partner in the series of escalating pas de deux mind games.

Director Ryuhei Kitamura got his start in 2000 with Versus, a movie about a bunch of dudes out in the woods fighting each other. Way back then, he showed an eye for choreographed action and gore. No One Lives affords him plenty of opportunity for both. There’s not a character here whose face isn’t sprayed with blood at some point. And that’s about the only thing that’s predictable.

No One Lives is available for video on demand. Watch it here to support Quarter to Three.

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