Following the success of David Bruckner’s The Ritual, Netflix is all set to plunge audiences back into another of Adam Nevill’s dark and stark worlds with an adaptation of his novel, “No One Gets Out Alive.”
Excited by the challenges and potential the script created, first-time filmmaker Santiago Menghini didn’t think twice about taking on directorial duties as soon as he was contacted for the job. Starring Cristina Rodlo and Marc Menchaca, ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ follows Ambar (Rodlo) as she finally embarks on her American Dream after dutifully tending to her terminally ill mother in Mexico for a number of years. On arriving in Cleveland illegally, she rents the cheapest room available from Red (Menchaca) in a near derelict boarding house. With disturbing nightmares and strange unearthly noises tormenting her every night, Ambar begins to realise that she has unwittingly been lured into a trap; one where she will soon be introduced to the evil that has been lurking in the basement.
With the film releasing globally on Netflix this September 29, 2021, SCREAM sat down with Marc Menchaca to discuss the film’s supernatural cosmic horror and how he identified with the protagonist’s desire to belong yet feeling alienated no matter how hard she tries to fit in.
SCREAM: You’ve played quite a long line of dark roles lately such Jack Hoskins in The Outsider and the villain in Peter Hyams’ Alone, just to name a couple. Were you handpicked for these or did you make deliberate choices to take on these roles?
Marc Menchaca: It’s the kind of material I like for a project. I do like playing darker roles because it usually gives you something to sink your teeth into.
Something that I particularly appreciated in this film is the fact that the audience does get to see some of the story from the antagonist’s perspective and we even feel the odd moment of empathy with them.
Definitely! I figured Red had a heart in there somewhere and he has ethical decisions to make. Otherwise, I think it would have just comes off as flat ah and I like to find some heart in the characters I play.
Oftentimes, horror films don’t work as well as they could because they fail to juxtapose real-life horrors with the supernatural, especially when it comes to haunted house films. ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ really nails combining the real horrors that the characters are going through before diving into the more supernatural elements. How complex was that balancing act from an actor’s perspective?
Christina and I had a really great working relationship, and we were able to talk about it a lot in between the days that we worked together. So we were able to discuss a lot of how to how to make the balance work. The themes of immigration and its bleak connotations were definitely in the ether of what we were talking about. It is definitely relevant to Christina. She’s Mexican, and she has been able to work in the States and lived there as well. And I was also able to identify to it a little bit as my grandparents were born in Mexico.
Another constant, without giving too much away, is that the film serves as a constant reminder that blood is thicker than water.
Very much so. Yes. With Red, blood definitely is thicker than water. I think just in general, in life that tends to be the case, no matter what. I mean, there are exceptions to it, but your family is always your family, and then just by having been raised by them or around them, you end up taking their side on things, whether it’s the right thing or not. In Red’s case, he does have a bit of a choice to make there with that. I think that side of things in the script was what really spoke to me the most: Making that decision to back your family first. My relationship with my brother, even though it’s not a perfect relationship, really spoke out to me based on the information I was given about our childhood and then just imagining them as kids really gets you thinking how Red might act in his current situation.
Santiago [Menghini] has done a fantastic job. Whenever an actor takes on a job with a first-time director, it’s always a bit of a leap of faith. When did you know you were in good hands?
I had conversations with Santiago before we started filming, and I knew that he had a great overall vision for the film. Also, he really understood where my character, Red was coming from. Then, once we finally got over there and started shooting, it was just very clear that he was very organise. I mean, he came in and if we went too far one way or the other, he definitely kind of massaged us back into the right place. At the end of the day, whether it’s a first-time director or not, I think you’ve always got to give somebody a chance.
The film also addresses regrets in the fact that Ambar regrets not having taken certain actions sooner. Talking of which: You co-directed in the past and those themes had me wondering if you’d be eager to get back into the director’s chair sometime soon?
Yeah. I would love to. We’ve been working on a couple of things. We want to try and get out there, which is the hardest part. This Is Where We Live, the film that I co-directed, was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. It was great to see what I had written come to life on the screen in front of me so I would love to do it again.
Before we let you go, you recently starred as the villain in John Hyam’s Alone and it looks like you struck up a good friendship with him as you recently wrapped another film with him called Sick. Can we expect to see that anytime soon?
I was just on the telephone with John yesterday and it’s looking good. It’s a fun little scary movie. I did it in June. John wrote it during Covid and that was the launching pad of the story. I think they’re pretty close to finishing it up, but I don’t know when they’re going to release it just yet.
Thank you so much for sitting down to talk with us as I know you’re busy and start filming Jack Ryan tomorrow here in Spain.
Always a pleasure. Thanks so much.
‘No One Gets Out Alive’ will release on Netflix globally, tomorrow, September 29, 2021.
Words: Howard Gorman