No One Lives is an ominously foreboding movie title, and for good reason. Directed by Midnight Meat Train’s Ryuhei Kitamura, the film finds a local gang of ruthless thugs abducting a wealthy couple (Immortals’ Luke Evans and The Covenant’s Laura Ramsey) and a young girl (Silent Hill 2’s Adelaide Clemens). When one of the captives isn’t exactly what he or she seems, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins. As the body count mounts, it begs the question: who is the true evil here? No One Lives will premiere later this week at the Toronto International Film Festival and actor Derek Magyar spoke exclusively to me by phone about his character Flynn and elevating the horror genre.
After appearing in Train and now No One Lives, is it safe to say you are a fan of the horror genre?
Honestly, it’s hard to compare those two. No One Lives is its own genre. It transcends the horror/thriller genre. It’s new in the sense that it’s very well-written dialogue with very strong characters in relation to the suspenseful and brutal storyline. Train was a much more Hostel environment. I enjoy making the kind of movie that is going to make people jump out of their seats. Or when they see something, they are like “Oh, it’s disgusting!” That can be really fun. For me, No One Lives is very deep in terms of characters who are fully arc-ed.
Can you introduce us to your character Flynn and where he fits into No One Lives?
Flynn is the antagonist of the story. At the beginning of the film, he is a troublemaker amongst troublemakers. He doesn’t follow rules and doesn’t have a moral compass. In walk these characters, the Driver [Evans] and Betty [Ramsey]. As strangers in my town, the first thing I want to do is mess around with them and I mess around with the wrong guy. Basically, it turns into a story about the Driver coming after this “gang.” He slowly takes us out one-by-one, until it’s him and I left. Then it becomes a battle of two evils and who do you root for in such a fight? I thought that was a fascinating facet.
As mentioned above, you were in Train. Ryuhei Kitamura directed Midnight Meat Train. There’s no shortage of gore in either of them. How extreme is No One Lives and in what ways does it manifest?
Am I comparing it to Midnight Meat Train? I can’t. There’s nothing that compares to Midnight Meat Train. This has moments of gore that are brilliantly done and unexpected. They are far and few between. The movie is not a gore picture at all. It makes those moments that are gory more realistic and disgusting.
How challenging was it delving into Flynn’s darker side?
To be honest, this was a very exciting role for me. It’s a starring vehicle and a character that is very dark. As an actor, it was a dream. The director was so generous in letting me play a little bit with the dialogue if it really served the arc of the character and created new things that we didn’t even know existed. This was really the most exciting role that I’ve played to date.
How does Flynn handle the situation once the tables are turned on him?
He’s aggressive. When he’s getting screwed with, his instinct is to shoot in the direction he saw the Driver or run after him in that direction. Or when the Driver is toying with me a bit, he underestimates Flynn. He doesn’t see Flynn as intelligent. There’s a scene in the diner where Luke [Evans] and I have a silent stare-off that lasts maybe five seconds. It was a very pivotal moment for me in the film because I took it as he saw something in my eyes and I saw something in his. That’s how the game began. Obviously, I didn’t know how it was going to go. The Driver mildly underestimates me, but he’s smarter than Flynn. Flynn is a loose cannon kind of guy whereas the Driver is more methodical in how he handles things.
Was No One Lives a physically and emotionally demanding production?
For me, very. It was very physically demanding and I tried to do as much as I could. We spent three days shooting the big ending fight scene between Flynn and the Driver. It takes place in a big car junkyard surrounded by cars, dirt and mud. There’s a giant pool of mud water and the fight ensues in the water. It was Luke and I doing that. There were doubles, but only for the things we could not do. I didn’t want it any other way and I don’t think Luke did either. Emotionally, it was very demanding because Flynn is very dark and I felt I had to do as much as I could to embody the character while we were filming. The fact we shot 90 per cent of this film at night was a blessing. I felt like a vampire and used that. I came out of my hotel in character and went to bed in character.
One early still features a bloody Flynn sitting in a car. What’s it like being doused in red fluids take after take?
It sucks! Anyone who tells you differently is lying. They were very good on this film with knowing what to use and how to use it and when to spray it beforehand and how to approach the actor. I’ll be the first to say I do really try to get into my role. That can come out in a bit of a nasty way towards certain crew in terms of touching me and this and that. I’m not one to want to be touched when I’m in that moment. They handled it very well in this film. But is it fun to be like “Alright, time to get soaking wet in blood?” No. The worst was probably the three days filming the big fight scene because literally, we’re in this pit which was five feet deep of mud water. There’s nothing protecting you, so it’s just disgusting. We would either walk in there and get soaking wet or literally, they’d have to spray us to get so wet looking.
Is it more fun playing the victim or the antagonist?
It’s a lot of fun to play the antagonist. My kind of work and what I like to do in my process… My head gears me towards the antagonist for the most part. At the same time, playing the victim is vulnerable and exciting. I always welcome the challenge of taking on the bad guy and trying to bring something new to it.
If you google Train and your name, YouTube features a very interesting clip.
Let me guess. Me running naked.
Yep, that’s the one.
Of course. Ridiculous. What can I say, man? I’ve got a great ass! It probably goes back to 2006 when I did a cross/gay indie. It was a great film called Boy Culture. I think I had a lot of fans of that side of my physical being. There are other good scenes in Train, I promise you that. Obviously, we all die on a fucking train, but you have to watch it to see at least something more than my ass.
Lastly, you have been stepping behind the camera lately with Flying Lessons and the rumored The Secrets We Share. Would you be up for directing a horror movie?
I would love to try it. It’s a really special genre and is doing very well. I’d want to do something that is different than the norm. There’s something very exciting about the found footage idea. I would love to take a stab at it when I find material that is original. What makes No One Lives so good is it’s a whole new genre of thriller/horror. If a script comes to me that has those elements, that is something I would love to direct.