Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Movie Review: No One Lives

I went into No One Lives with mixed to low expectations.  Most reviews ripped the movie to shreds, although a few had made it sound like an over the top, blood soaked fun ride.  So, I settled in for what I believed was going to be a non-stop, action packed stalk and slash movie.

What I got was something completely different, and honestly, not all that enjoyable. 

The basic plot is this: "Driver" (Luke Evans) and his lady love Betty (Laura Ramsey) are on the road together.  They seem like a normal, albeit very serious, couple.  They stop to grab a bite to eat, and find themselves being harassed by a biker gang, lead by Hoag (Lee Tergesen).  It isn't until after the group has kidnapped Driver and Betty that they find out that Driver isn't all he seems to be.  In fact (and the previews give this away) Driver is a very talented serial killer/psychopath who has a young woman (Silent Hill Revelations Adelaide Clemens) locked up in his trunk, and a small arsenal hidden away in the trailer he has hitched to his car.   

No One Lives is an odd duck.  The first twenty minutes of the film are loaded to the brim with stiff, too serious dialogue and borderline ridiculous attempts at character work. All of the scenes between Driver and Betty are painful to watch, with both actors delivering their lines in dull, deadpan seriousness.  The dialogue is so unnatural and theatrical that it draws the audience right out of the film. 

I am going to be completely honest.  The beginning of this movie is painful. Even a very brutal scene involving a whole family being offed feels off kilter with some of the characters throwing out dialogue that can only be described as low rent Shakespeare. 

Once Driver and his girlfriend are kidnapped things pick up, and yet... they don't. 

For as violent and bombastic as the film is, it never really seems to kick into high gear. There is no tension, no urgency.  The majority of the characters are so unlikeable that most won't care if they live or die. It is also obvious who is going to die, and when.  There is no surprises.  The whole thing is just on autopilot.

Then there is Luke Evans' performance.  He isn't bad, but holy crap is he dull.  He has a few moments where he shines through, giving the character a little evil, playful glint in his eye, but for the majority of the film he comes off as stiff, and even worse, bored. 

Also, as violent as this movie is, it never seems to go far enough.  Don't get me wrong, there is blood, but after watching films like the Evil Dead remake, this movie seems almost tame.  Most of the kills are pretty straight forward, and the few over the top set pieces are actually fairly restrained with the nastiest bits happening off screen.  Gore hounds might find themselves disappointed with this one.

The film isn't all bad.  Adelaide Clemens actually turns in a pretty entertaining performance.  While she plays her character detached and shell shocked, she always has a look of mild amusement about her. She's the audiences' eyes through most of the film, and she handles the role of heroin wonderfully, creating a strong and interesting character.  

America Olivio and Lindsey Shaw also turn in two very fun performances, with Olivio playing the hard ass biker mama, and Shaw playing Hoag's daughter.  Both women get to participate in one of the most random, hilarious, and truly awesome cat fights I have ever seen since Charlize Theron and Terri Hatcher threw down in 2 Days in the Valley.   That scene alone almost makes the movie worth seeing.  Almost.

Still, No One Lives feels like a total missed opportunity.  Too much of the film plays it safe, and even when it does start to go over the top, it ends up pulling it's punches.  Skip this one.

Instead of No One Lives check out:
The Collection
Evil Dead (2013)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Darkness

I jokingly say I should stop reading the news.  Every day it's a different story about people being killed, political unrest.  The news has turned into a stream of uncontrollable hate seems to be overtaking our world. I spend most of my time looking for a human interest story.  Something that makes me smile, or restores my faith in humanity. 

When we live in a world where three teenagers gun down a young man because they just wanted to kill someone, you need something to make you smile, to give you hope, to make you realize that the world is not full of hate and anger and pain.  That, while we focus on the suffering and the violence, there are still good people out there. 

Recently I read a blog called Single Dad Laughing.  I had been directed there because of this post.  I have to tell you, I have never felt so moved in my life.  Seriously, go there, read that post, and just let it sink in.  Let his message just settle into your brain, and then go over it again. 

If you are too busy to read the article, then let me sum up the general idea.  Love people.  Love everyone.  Love them because they are who they are, and they have struggled, and they have made mistakes, and they may not be your idea of what a person should be.  Love them. 

Don't just love them, but give a damn about them.  Give a damn about how your words effect them.  Give a damn about how shutting someone out, ignoring someone because they are that ever present, ever feared and loathed "other", can crush that person. 

The post on his blog touched me enough that I felt like I had to share it.  Seriously, check out his blog.  There are other amazing posts in there.  There are other amazing stories. 

So, now it's time for my own little moment here.  My message for you.  A message we can all strive to live by. Do not just try to be good.  Try to do good.  Do not just try to do good.  Do good.  Be a light in a world that seems to grow darker every day.  Be the hope for someone else.  Do not do it to be looked up to.  Do not do it to be respected, or well liked.  Do it because you want to.  Do it because you strive to make this world a better place not just for yourself, or those you love, but for everyone. We will not always succeed.  I will not always succeed.  Still, even if the goal cannot be reached, it should be in the back of your mind at all times. 

If you fail, and you will fail, just as I will fail, do not give up.  We are human.  We have emotions that we don't always have control over.  The best thing you can do is to see a failure as something to push you forward.  A failure should not stop you.  It should motivate you.  It should light a fire under you, or inside of you. 

Instead of letting the darkness stop you, you should strive to stop the darkness.  We won't win the war, but dammit, in this one situation the battle is more important then the war.