Reviews Pour in for WWE Studios' 'No One Lives'

Sharon GlencrossContributor IMay 10, 2013

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Early reviews are in for No One Lives, WWE Studios' new horror film, and they're, well, mixed at best.

The film, which stars Brodus Clay and is co-produced by Pathe Pictures, is due to open today in 53 movie theaters in 34 cities across America, with a potential wider release depending on how early ticket sales go (via PWTorch).

No One Lives is directed by filmmaker Ryuhei Kitamura, whose previous work includes cult classics The Midnight Meat Train, Battlefield Baseball and Samurai Zombie (is that the greatest movie title ever, or what?).

The film revolves around a gang of murderous highway criminals who kidnap a seemingly normal young couple, only to discover things aren't quite as they seem...

Alas, it seems Kitamura may have been better off sticking with sword-wielding zombies.

With 16 reviews currently in over at Rotten Tomatoes, No One Lives currently stands at a rather poor 19 percent. 

Critic Roger Moore labelled the film a "generic thriller" that was "decently acted but not frightening."

Over at the LA Times, Robert Abele dismissed the movie as a "cheap horror prank" and called the acting "mostly regrettable."

Horror site Bloody Disgusting was harsher still: "While incredibly gory, No One Lives is soulless garbage whose problems begin and end with an appalling script." Yikes.

Not all the reviews were bad, though. The Village Voice's Chuck Wilson claimed the movie "should satisfy horror fans" and praised the film for its pacing and hard-hitting action.

Pop Matters also praised the movie, noting that Kitamura had managed to put together an edgy, innovative thriller that played with viewer expectations:

Working from a clever script from David Cohen, the filmmaker fashions an experience where nothing is what it seems, where the first 25 minutes or so see more twists and turns than in a dozen derivative fright flicks, and the end result is the possibility of an entire new fear franchise with a charismatic killer with a penchant for numbers and nastiness at its core.

All things considered, it's been a mixed couple of months for WWE Studios.

The thriller The Call was a massive hit, taking in almost $52 million domestically, with the company revealing last week at the first quarter earning conference call that they were expecting to make $6 million off of their investment in the project (via PWInsider). Unsurprisingly, WWE recently noted to Variety that it's considering doing a sequel to the movie.

Direct-to-DVD action sequel The Marine 3: Homefront, starring Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, has also performed impressively.

Made for a modest $1.5 million, sales figures indicate that the film managed to make back its entire budget shortly after it hits the stores in North America, shifting a whopping 101,910 copies in its first three weeks of release alone.

For some perspective on those figures: CM Punk's Best in the World DVD and The Ric Flair Collection, two very successful WWE video releases, didn't do anything close to those sales.

(Figures from this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and box office data site The Numbers.)

Sadly, the awful performance in theaters of Dead Man Down cast a shadow over these successes. It was noted in the conference call that the film division had lost almost $5 million on it.

(Clearly, there was not enough Wade Barrett in the film, otherwise it would have surely done Avatar-level numbers.)

So, will No One Lives fall into the success or fail category?

Well, the reviews don't bode well, but it's not like horror fans usually pay attention to critics. The Devil Inside and Paranormal Activity 4 both managed to do very well in theaters, despite receiving a critical mauling.

Indeed, WWE's 2006 slasher flick See No Evil starring Kane was also widely trashed, but still managed to do respectable numbers at the box office. It seems if you have the required amount of blood, gore and violence in a film, many will flock to it no matter what.