Netflix’s start to Halloween month has been quite weak, and we are not happy about it. Netflix released the Spanish-English horror film No One Gets Out Alive, directed by Santiano Menghini, that somehow fails to meet the simple standards of horror. Starring Marc Menchaca, Cristina Rodlo, Victoria Alcock, David Figlioli, David Barrera and Moronke Akinola in major roles, the film is perhaps one of Netflix’s worst horror flicks and here’s why.
The film begins with a montage of skeletons, mummies and an old stone box being unearthed from Mexico. The box makes its way into a Cleveland-based dilapidated apartment that has witnessed several forms of horrifying incidents. Then we are introduced to Ambar, a woman who crosses the border from Mexico to the United States without a valid identity card. She manages to bag a mundane job with a minimum wage that manages to pay for her living expenses.
She seeks shelter in the haunted Victorian apartment, and when things start looking up, with her deceased mother’s cousin offering her a job, she gets duped by her co-worker, who promises a valid ID for $3000 but disappears with the money. Things start going awry from there as Ambar begins to witness several paranormal incidents in her room and gets convinced of the sinister nature of the apartment as well as the landlords, Red and Becker. When Ambar tries to escape, the brothers catch hold of her and the other Romanian women in the apartment and use them as a sacrifice to a demon that haunts the basement and resides in the stone box.
Adapted from Adam Nevill’s horror novel, the film falls flat in its embarrassingly funny jumpscares and feeble attempts at horror. The title of the film spoils the premise — whoever enters the ruins of the Victorian house does not get out alive. The house is haunted by the spirits of the countless women Red and Becker’s father sacrificed as well as their mother, Mary’s spirit. What an ironic name, right?
The demon that the film presents at the end of the picture obliterates any amount of scare the previous build-up might have caused. With vaginal dentata, the demon looks like a crossbreed of a giant arachnid and a serpent with hands. The poor CGI and the funny appearance plays to the film’s disadvantage. The constant motif of the butterflies and moths, too, have no significance to the film, which makes it quite frustrating.
The real horror, however, resides in the plight and predicament of immigrants who cross the border. Immigration is a problem that plagues the whole world, especially the United States, and via Ambar’s sorry state, the dehumanisation and degradation of immigrants are noticeable. She comes to the US for a fresh start cooped up in a truck with nothing but a backpack. She dreams of studying business management but barely has the money to afford rent or feed herself. She is afraid of the police and is jittery when a police officer sits in the same cafe as her.
She also battles various inner demons where her hatred towards her mother clashes with her survivor’s guilt. After having dedicated her prime years to taking care of her mother’s health, Ambar’s resentment is palpable. However, she sorely misses her and constantly replays the voicemails to come to terms with the situation. It is her mother’s voice that keeps her afloat amidst all the worries.
When Ambar chokes her mother to death in the final sequence, she wakes up from the vivid dream and does not get sacrificed to the demon. Was it a vehement expression of her innermost vile desires? Was she actually haunted by her mother and not the house itself? Had she now become the demon? The film leaves various questions unanswered. The motif of a mother is quite strong in the movie as both Ambar and Red as well as his brother Becker are affected deeply by their mother’s deaths.
Although the film is an utter waste of time, despite the sparsely populated eerie moments, for horror aficionados, it starts an important conversation about immigration and drives empathy towards immigrants and their fearful conditions. If you are looking for a social commentary rather than a horror film, give it a go.