‘No One Gets Out Alive’ Review: Spooky Start, Messy Finish
By Daniel Rester
Based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, Santiago Menghini’s debut feature No One Gets Out Alive is a spooky little Netflix film. Until it isn’t. I was impressed with Menghini’s work much of the time, and could see him becoming a major horror hitter eventually, but unfortunately his debut film falls apart as it becomes more muddled the longer it goes on.
Cristina Rodlo turns in a strong performance as Ambar in No One Gets Out Alive. After dealing with the passing of her mother, Ambar moves to Cleveland as an undocumented immigrant in search of a better life. She gets a sweaty job at a factory while she waits to get a fake identification card. Ambar also moves into a cheap boarding house for the time being.
The home is run by a mysterious man named Red (Marc Menchaca), who supposedly takes care of his brother. People come and go at the house, so Ambar is mostly alone there in the large building with many floors. She begins seeing strange things in the house and in her dreams. This includes ghostly beings and a foreboding stone box.
No One Gets Out Alive doesn’t have the cheap and flat look of many horror and thriller projects tossed onto Netflix. It’s an unusually handsome production from a first-time director. Menghini and his director of photography, Stephen Murphy, establish an open and creepy atmosphere inside of the dilapidated house while the exteriors lend coldness via snowy weather. There’s a lot of dark blues, greens, and oranges to the color work. Menghini also likes to keep his specters in hazy backgrounds most of the time instead of shocking us up close. This makes them even more chilling when you can spot them.
There’s strong sound work done here too. Ambar doesn’t always see ghostly figures, but she hears them a lot. There’s screaming in the water pipes and sobbing in the air vents. But why are those who are dead afraid and sad in the building?
The reveal is… weird. I of course won’t spoil what it is, but I will say it involves some mixed-bag CGI and uneven handling. The final act feels like a completely different horror film as Menghini starts to favor gore and a blend of ambiguous twists and obvious twists. Before then, No One Gets Out Alive is a bit repetitive as Ambar continuously faces financial hurdles and odd nightmares. Some of these scenes add character depth while others could have easily been left on the cutting room floor.
Menghini’s horror film is a frustrating one despite the director’s best efforts. A lot of individual pieces work really well, but when combined the end result feels messy. Rodlo’s warm and emotional performance and the rich atmosphere help, but they aren’t quite enough. Still, I look forward to what Menghini does next.
My Grade: 5.8/10 (letter grade equivalent: C+)
Running Time: 1h 25min