Having scored a hit with David Bruckner’s film based on Adam Nevill’s novel The Ritual, Netflix returns to the well with No One Gets Out Alive based on the author’s award-winning novel of the same name. This time Bruckner is an executive producer and the film is directed by Santiago Menghini from a script by Fernanda Coppel (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series) and Jon Croker (The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Paddington 2).
After the death of her mother Ambar (Cristina Rodlo, The Terror, Too Old to Die Young) comes to America looking for a better life, but as an undocumented immigrant that isn’t an easy task. Getting a room in a rundown boarding house owned by Red (Marc Menchaca, Alone, The Retaliators) and works any job she can get trying to afford the documents that will let her get a better job.
However, a series of misfortunes threaten her chances of getting the paperwork she needs. And disturbing occurrences in the house make Ambar realize ICE may be the lesser of the evils she may have to face.
No One Gets Out Alive opens with a title sequence showing old footage of something being removed from a creepy-looking South American temple. That’s followed by a prologue in Red’s creepy house. It sets the tone nicely as Ambar moves in and begins to encounter disturbing things. They range from Red’s brother Becker (David Figlioli, I Know Who Killed Me, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels) to the spirits of the building’s former tenants.
Playing this off against the difficulties she faces due to her status, lack of funds and lack of anyone to turn to for help, Menghini builds not on a feeling of dread about the house but an overall sense of being trapped. The only connection she has in the area is her mother’s cousin Beto (David Barrera, NYPD Blue, Generation Kill) but he seems reluctant to help her due to her status. The result is that for its first hour No One Gets Out Alive is as much a drama as it is a horror film.
That can be hard to pull off as too much real-life drama can kill a film’s atmosphere and take away from the scares. But in One Gets Out Alive the two complement each other. Between the nightmare of her day-to-day existence, and the evil that stalks the house Ambar is left in a situation where simply leaving isn’t an option but neither is staying. It’s a Catch 22 that makes her going back to the house with Red understandable. It’s a risk she has no choice but to take.
It’s not until the final act that No One Gets Out Alive kicks out the stops and becomes a full-blown horror film. And Menghini delivers a solid finale that involves murder, demons, human sacrifice and whatever came from that temple during the film’s credits. It’s a wild, unexpectedly bloody ride. And one that’s enhanced by the careful setup that’s come before it.
When we finally get a look at No One Gets Out Alive’s demon it’s one of the more bizarre and unique things I’ve seen in a film. I’m not sure if it’s based on something out of South or Central American folklore but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a painting of it on the wall of some Peruvian ruins. Thankfully it’s brought to life with practical effects rather than CGI which would probably have rendered it laughable.
No One Gets Out Alive is currently available on Netflix. It’s in English with options for subtitles and dubbing in several languages. It’s worth the watch if you’re a subscriber.