An immigrant in search of the American dream who, after being forced to take a room in a boarding house, finds herself in a nightmare she can't escape.
Wow it has been a minute since I actually reviewed a movie. Life has been pretty fucked up for us all over the past few years. Probably missed an opportunity to grow the site while everyone was stuck at home but, never mind.
Now seems like as good a time as any to get back to looking at horror stuff again. At least the cinemas are open and people are producing movies again. What better way to start than with yet another Netflix published horror movie.
It’s worth pointing out that, at Knockout Horror, we review movies. I always wanted to present this site as two people having a quick chat about what they thought of a movie. I have no interest in getting into the mind of the director or taking wild guesses at a filmmakers motivations. We just review the movie, nothing more. No bullshit, no attempt to get into the deep philosophical meaning of a single shot or what the creator was attempting to convey with some random metaphor. Too many review sites do that already and there are plenty of people in the IMDB user review section that devote plenty of time to this. I want to present an easy to read, brutally honest, straight to the point review and that’s what I will always aim to offer.
Yeah, I lied, there is some bullshit. No One Gets Out Alive has a pretty straight forward ending but there are a few things there that might need a little explaining. With this in mind, we have attempted to do just that in our No One Gets Out Alive Ending Explained article. Why not check it out if you have watched the movie and are a little confused? Obviously there are spoilers so don’t you dare go and look if you haven’t seen the movie… Actually, go spoil yourself and then spoil it for a friend too for good measure.
I haven’t covered many Netflix horror movies as, to be honest, I think they are consistently overrated. My disdain for many of them would make for nauseating reading. I don’t think that it is beneficial to this site for me to come across as a contrarian going against the usual one sided discourse afforded to movies like Hush (93% on Rotten Tomatoes, give me a break) so I just avoid them.
It is, as a horror fan, however, difficult to ignore the number of horror films published by Netflix. Despite the UK version of Netflix having a pitiful horror selection, they have a substantial number that are advertised as Netflix movies. They all tread a familiar path of middle of the road, jump scare packed romps with plenty of plot holes and liberal use of a green filter.
Credit where credit is due, none of these movies step too far out of their comfort zone and, for the most part, offer a fairly watchable movie with decent production values. The average movie fan is unlikely to scoff at these Netflix offerings but, in my opinion, many serious horror fans will be left wanting more. I look at them as being in a similar ball park to things such as the Conjuring movie spinoffs (Annabelle Comes Home, The Curse of La Llorona). They are okay as popcorn flicks, just don’t expect too much.
Keeping with that theme is our review subject today No One Gets Out Alive. A Netflix published horror movie by a multinational team featuring British producers, a Director who immigrated to Quebec from Brazil, a Mexican lead, Romanian side characters and an American location.
No One Gets Out Alive is a haunted house horror movie with a twist directed by Santiago Menghini and based on a novel by British author Adam Nevill. You may know Adam Nevill as the author of another horror movie adaptation – The Ritual. We actually saw The Ritual in a cinema with a friend and we all really enjoyed it. No One Gets Out Alive is produced by a British team consisting of Jonathan Cavendish and Will Tennant with a screenplay by Fernanda Coppel and Jon Croker; this movie, clearly, is very much an international effort.
No One Gets Out Alive follows the story of Ambar, played by Cristina Rodlo. Ambar is a Mexican woman who has illegally entered Cleveland, Ohio, in the US, hoping to find the American dream. This is where our first problem occurs, who the hell goes to Cleveland, Ohio looking for the American dream? I’m kidding, of course, sorry to anyone from Cleveland. Cleveland always makes for a great setting for Horror movies. The architecture and unfortunate dilapidation of certain areas affords producers a claustrophobic and foreboding setting.
Thanks to plenty of that trademark Netflix horror movie exposition, it becomes clear that Ambar gave up much of her life to care for her ailing mother. She is now living a life of pure whimsy working cash in hand factory jobs, having no social life, being moved on from awful accommodation to awful accommodation, and generally enjoying the average experience most of Gen Z can look forward to after Covid and the current world conflicts raise the prices of literally everything (Sorry – A Millennial who at least got to grow up in the hope filled 90s).
Ambar manages to find some accommodation in an old house converted into apartments run by a man called Red (Marc Menchaca) and his brother. The only other occupant is a young woman who, like most people in her situation would do, spends her nights crying in her room. Perhaps she just noticed the price of fuel?
Ambar, on her quest to obtain false identification documents so she can take a job with her Uncle’s firm, suffers a number of setbacks that lead to her becoming increasingly depressed and isolated. Added to this is the ever present grief from losing her mother and the strange happenings she is beginning to notice in her new home. Ambar spots things out of the corner or her eye, experiences unsettling events and hears unusual noises. Are the things she is seeing a result of her mental state or something more sinister?
I am sure you get the picture, this is all pretty standard stuff and hard to recommend off the back of the horror element. I feel like I have seen this type of movie hundreds of time. The predicament of the main character, Ambar, is actually the only thing setting No One Gets Out Alive apart from similar haunted house movies and may justify a watch on its own as you really don’t see this theme a lot in horror.
I actually found myself more interested in Ambar’s struggles to fit in in a brutal world and deal with all the difficulties that come along with being a female illegal immigrant in the US than what was happening in the house. Strangely enough, I would have preferred the horror element to be pushed to the side so that we can follow Ambar’s journey a little more. Being an illegal immigrant in poverty stricken parts of Cleveland is horrifying enough.
The drama element of No One Gets Out Alive is well constructed and very well acted. Cristina Roldo is more than capable of carrying the bulk of the movie and does a decent job of conveying emotion through many scenes that feature no character interactions or dialogue. It is easy to become invested in her struggles and you genuinely want to see what will happen next.
Unfortunately, a predictable horror element takes centre stage for much of the movie and dilutes what is an otherwise interesting plot. Any horror fan will find themselves predicting what will happen scene by scene as if they were in the room when the movie was filmed and that isn’t a good thing. Take away the main character’s background and struggles and what you have left is a young woman living in a scary old house with a questionable landlord, some nutty housemates, and some random ghost sightings.
Things do ratchet up a bit towards the last 20 minutes although not in a particularly significant way. It’s worth mentioning that No One Gets Out Alive seems to really indulge in its violence towards women. This is nothing new with horror but it seems a bit extra here. The end scene leaves you wondering why the violence was directed purely to women and there is at least one scene that felt a bit needless and pointless to the plot. The movie also enjoys its injury detail so keep that in mind if you don’t enjoy that kind of thing. There is also some use of subtitling for scenes featuring characters speaking other languages so if you struggle with reading, you may want to watch with a friend or partner to help you out.
There is something of a twist to the plot but it feels insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It is buried beneath suggestions of occult like rituals, mental illness, and a whole ton of “Why the fuck would she do that??” moments. The one thing saving this is the short run time which means the movie can be tied up quite neatly before anything can become too fleshed out.
On the plus side, the movie is really well filmed. It looks fantastic for the most part and feels fairly high budget despite it’s limited filming locations and lesser known cast. There is an overabundance of green tinting everything on screen but camera work is always top notch. This makes it all the more jarring when we are assaulted with some horrendous CG stuff towards the end of the movie. Holy shit we laughed hard. I really wish producers would find another way to do things rather than using CG. It looks awful in high budget Marvel movies. In low budget horror it looks pathetic.
If we quickly rewind to what I said before regarding Netflix published horror movies being overrated, No One Gets Out Alive is a decent example of that. One well known horror movie review site has this movie as a 4 out of 5 and claims it “Delights with Surprising Twist to Haunted House Horror”. This is what we are dealing with when it comes to Netflix horror movies. Major review sites set the narrative and other sites tend to fall in line. This movie is average at best. I understand opinions are like assholes but some seem to stink more than others.
It’s hard to believe that these sites aren’t receiving something of a kick back from the publishers to talk these movies up. The above mentioned horror movie review site described the CG in this movie as incredible. That is objectively false. They described the ending as unforgettable. I wish I was that easily pleased. The relentless use of buzz words almost seems as if it is authored by someone with a personal investment in the movie. Luckily user reviews for the movie are more honest.
No One Gets Out Alive is a cookie cutter horror movie about as middle of the road as you can possibly get. The interesting main character and her ongoing experience as a Mexican illegal immigrant in the US whispers at something compelling that never manages to get moving under the weight of its boring, haunted house plot.
The short run time, decent acting and fantastic camera work means you probably won't feel too short changed if you decide to waste an hour and 25 minutes watching. Don't expect too much and you may enjoy it.