WWE superstar Brodus Clay was stretching out ringside, banged up with 13 staples after taking a ladder to the head, when he was approached about his interest in a movie project affiliated with WWE Studios. For Clay, an avid movie buff, it was a one-sentence sell. The answer was yes; don’t need to know who’s in it and don’t need the synopsis. Yes. He was then informed he’d shortly be whisked away to LA for casting, which he assumed translated to something along the lines of auditions. Turns out it was a physical casting of a rubber mold for his body that he nun too subtly implies would be ravaged in the course of the film. In fact, he was rather startled, amused then ecstatic to hear that the script called for an elaborate cinematic death. And I sure don’t want to hear any “spoiler alert” protests from any of you; the movie’s titled No One Lives, so get over it.
I’m intrigued by this project’s exertion toward freshness. Whether it achieves it or not, we shall see, but at least on paper, it’s schematics add up to more than just another slasher flick or wrestling plug. Luke Evans (The Three Musketeers, Immortals and Clash of the Titans) and Lee Tergesen (Wayne’s World, Monster and HBO’s Oz) add character legitimacy to a plot that utilizes the turn of predator becoming prey. The story is a ruthless criminal gang takes a young couple hostage after a botched job and goes to ground in a secluded abandoned house. When the captive girl is killed, the tables are unexpectedly turned, and the gang finds themselves outsmarted by an urbane and seasoned killer determined to ensure that everyone dies.
Clay says, “There are no good guys in this movie. It’s real bad guys vs. a worse bad guy, and the worse bad guy is the hero.” He references the breaking from cookie-cutter horror, and while he’s intrigued to see if the reception is lauding for the film’s cleverness or negative for being too abstract or weird, he’s proud that his debut project is of this ambitious nature rather than more predictable cinema. “It is different,” he says, “and I hope it helps other horror movies get away from the formula a bit.”
The early reviews on No One Lives are alluringly mixed; it’s been both praised for its unconventional approach and artistry of gore as well as condemned as shock horror resembling that of Hostile. Clay says it reminded him a lot of An American Werewolf in London– what he feels is the greatest werewolf film to date. “It’s very similar to that in that it feels like its done more as an artistic expression instead of having blood and guts just to have it. Everything makes sense and there’s a build to it. Every death is artwork. It’s clever in how they do things.” He was impressed with director Ryuhei Kitamura’s hands on approach and handling of the material.
This being Clay’s first cinematic job, he was happy that Kitamura and he hit it off so well. The director was behind the Godzilla: Final Wars film in 2004, and Clay’s a devoted Godzilla fanboy, collecting all the original Japanese films, artwork and action figures. He was extremely interested in Kitamura’s take on the project and this help provide a common ground and ease of communication, which proved a valuable asset with the on-screen work. “In wrestling, the goal is one to three takes. Movies are different. The scenes are done over and over again with different tones and ranges. You have to know how you say something at one point to come back with the same facial expression. It’s only an hour and half film, but you really aren’t prepared for the hours that go into it until you experience it.” He relates Kitamura to a high school football coach calling plays; he knows what he wants and wants it executed in that way. He was also impressed by the devoted professionalism of the crew and his fellow actors, and though he was the rookie on set, he wasn’t treated as so.
The film is released May 10th to select cities.