And as we head into October, it’s time for Halloween movie nights. Maybe you’ll tune in to AMC’s FearFest or hunker down with Shudder. Or perhaps you’ll settle for some Netflix and Chills. Aside from familiar old titles and some hotly anticipated new ones (Midnight Mass, There’s Someone Inside Your House), Netflix has already quietly unveiled some under-the-radar releases. Up first is Santiago Menghini’s immigrant horror movie, No One Gets Out Alive, which promises timely twists on familiar scares. To date, audiences seem split on this one while critics have been generally impressed.
After her mother’s death, Ambar, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, moves to Cleveland. She quickly finds a low paying job and a room to rent in a run-down boarding house. But with little money and only a distant cousin for support, Ambar is at the mercy of her landlord, Red. All she can do is keep her head down while trying to scrape together enough money for a fake ID and better future. Things only worsen, however, when images of past tenants and a strange stone box haunt Ambar at night. With the very real fear of deportation looming over her, Ambar faces the possibility that she may not get out alive.
No One Gets Out Alive Overcomes Its Familiarity to Offer Genuine Scares
With his feature-length directorial debut, director Santiago Menghini demonstrates an apt hand for horror. On one hand, No One Gets Out Alive trades on some pretty familiar haunted house tropes. By and large, No One Gets Out of Alive won’t surprise most horror fans. It’s Gothic horror set in a burnt-out urban district married to an immigrant’s horror tale. With its twisting staircases, peeling walls, and dark hallways, Menghini could have ripped his boarding house from any countless number of movies. Yes, Ambar’s visions – all those ghostly apparitions – deviate little from what we’ve seen in other horror movies. Nevertheless, Menghini shows a lot of confidence as he breathes genuine suspense and scares into these images. He also keeps the moving clipping along at a decent pace.
With its twisting staircases, peeling walls, and dark hallways, Menghini could have ripped his boarding house from any countless number of movies.
As its final act deviates into unfamiliar territory, No One Gets Out Alive will either win over or lose some viewers. To say that the movie’s ‘monster-in-a-box’ defies description would be an understatement. It’s either the most visually interesting creature creation since The Ritual or a laughable mess. What emerges from the stone box is a bizarre amalgamation of human, animal, and insect that should at least have audiences talking. Perhaps the movie’s inability to delve more into the story’s mythology hampers the monster’s impact. From this viewer’s perspective, however, the movie’s final act and monster elevated everything that proceeded it.
Human Characters May the Scariest Monsters in No One Gets Out Alive
Based on Adam Nevill’s novel of the same name, No One Gets Out Alive benefits from a timely subtext. And it’s a well-executed one. Jon Croker and Fernanda Copel’s screenplay slightly tweaks familiar conventions via its focus on undocumented immigrants. That is, Ambar can’t leave the house and she can’t ask anyone for help. Visons of past victims haunt her in the house, while the real fear of deportation awaits her outside. Predators, both real and supernatural, prey on Ambar as they did on the boarding house’s past residents. Like some of the best horror movies, No One Gets Out Alive feels relevant and, as a result, its suspenseful moments often feel more urgent.
Courtesy of Nevill’s original source material and the screenplay, Red is a more complex character than initially expected.
Though some viewers may balk at the movie’s monster, it’s human villains are consistently menacing. For most of the movie, Ozark’s Marc Menchaca gives off what seems like obvious villain vibes. But it’s a stoic performance that becomes increasingly more layered. Courtesy of Nevill’s original source material and the screenplay, Red is a more complex character than initially expected. This adds some surprising moral ambiguity in the movie’s final act. And David Figlioli’s ‘Becker’ brings a physically imposing presence that immediately ups the stakes. Though the brother’s dark family history adds another sinister turn for the film’s final act, the backstory and mythology behind the stone box feels too underdeveloped. As Ambar, Cristina Rodio delivers an excellent, if not understated, performance.
No One Gets Out Alive a Familiar, But Genuinely Frightening, Movie
As Netflix kicks off its Halloween Netflix and Chills month, No One Gets Out Alive quietly steps forward out of the gate as one of the better original genre movies in recent memory. Though Menghini often leans on familiar haunted house tropes, he executes them with tense precision, resulting in a genuinely suspenseful viewing experience. Horror fans wills also find enough gross-out moments in the movie’s final act to whet their appetite. Throw in a meaningful – if not obvious subtext – alongside a mesmerizing monster and No One Gets Out Alive earns a spot in your Halloween viewing roster.