It’s rare for a “unique” take on the slasher formula to win me over. What can I say? I like familiarity. But 2012 produced two films that really did it for me!
NO ONE LIVES
We’re not sure what becomes of a resourceful chick at the beginning after she runs through the woods in a fight for her life and gets caught in a trap….
Then we meet a band of baddies. After a really mucked up robbery of an expensive home, we can see that one of the guys is much more of a loose cannon than the others, which immediately creates tension between members of the group. But he’s the least of their problems because they are about to mess with the wrong person. As they continue their crime spree, they’re suddenly holed up in a house and being stalked by a killer.
No One Lives is a purely mean-spirited film. There’s no one particularly likeable to root for; even the “final girl” has some serious issues! She also happens to bring some deliciously subtle dark humor to the movie—so I kind of rooted for her. The deaths and brutality are harsh and the action and tension are nonstop. It’s just a fun ride through and through.
Here are some interesting things to note about the male cast of No One Lives Forever. Actor Lee Tergesen had a gay relationship in the prison series Oz on HBO. Actor Derek Magyar got man-on-man action in the gay film Boy Culture. And actor Luke Evans appeared in the gay play Taboo (as straight) and apparently came out to The Advocate but got pushed back into the closet because he’s getting roles in action films. Here’s his gay ass from the movie…
I’ve never been much of a fan of the original 1980 Maniac, which I talk about here. The remake, while sticking pretty close to the plot of the original, is so much more intense. I actually prefer the dark and sleek look of it compared to the sleazy feel of the original.
The most unique difference is the killer POV. Sure, Elijah Wood takes on the Joe Spinell role as the maniac, but the only time you see him in the remake is when he’s near a reflective surface (such as a mirrored ceiling over a bed. Awesome). The film is shot in first person; we are actually seeing out of the maniac’s eyes. Talk about getting inside the killer’s head. We watch each viciously disgusting scalping as if we are doing the cutting. EEK!
I guess you could complain about Elijah Wood being miscast, but Joe Spinell looked like a serial killer. Any chick in her right mind would avoid that dude! It’s easier to believe that the women Elijah targets to deal with his mommy issues could be persuaded to hook up with him. And it’s easier to believe him building an actual dating relationship with the female photographer interested in his mannequins.
Unique to the remake are some flashbacks showing how his mother’s whoring ways affected his development. There are also great scenes portraying the maniac’s feelings of emasculation and his sensitivity about his sexual orientation (keep an eye on the reflection in a mirror during a 2-guys/1-girl threeway). But my favorite reflection moment is the homage to the poster art for the original film in a car door.
My only complaint about the remake is the use of “Goodbye Horses” by Q. Lazzarus. Don’t even go there. Seriously. The song has been used in way too iconic a horror scene already to be used again. EVER. The film also doesn’t have the “cemetery scene” from the original (a scene that, while great from a horror perspective, felt forced anyway), but the revenge of the victims remains, and it’s awesome.
To think, such horrific movies could have such pretty faces: