25th Jul2013

‘Nobody Gets Out Alive’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Jen Dance, Shaun Paul Costello, Chelsey Garner, Matthew Nadu, Nikki Bell, David J. Bonner, Chris Ready, Brian Gallagher, Clint Howard | Written and Directed by Jason Christopher

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At a time when a remake of a classic horror film has recently come out on Blu-ray, seemingly looking to humanise an iconic monster of the screen, yet leaving many a horror fan feeling empty; horror fans understand that we don’t need to understand a killer to know why he does what he does, just give him a simple motivation and let him raise hell.  This is why I was quite happy to find myself reviewing Nobody Gets Out Alive which ended up being an independent horror based on good old fashioned homage to slasher conventions deeply rooted in the seventies and eighties.

When Jen finally gets to leave the hospital where she’s had an extended stay her parents think it would be good for her to get away from things.  Her friends decide to take her out camping in some woods where they can get drunk and just forget about life for a while.  Sharing scary stories they tell the tale of how people who like to party like this are known to be killed in the woods, but little do they know that there is truth behind the tales as Hunter Isth a man who lost his daughter to a road accident involving a group of drunk friends stalks the woods just waiting for his next victims.

Nobody Gets Out Alive does have that almost clichéd feel of the slasher genre to it, we are given the opening scene of the daughter being run over to set up the reason to kill, then get introduced to the strong female character being released from hospital providing us with the obvious heroine of the piece.  Add to this the group of friends, who fit typical over sexed, drunk partying victims then we have the perfect setup for an old school slasher.  With a suitably low budget feel to it it’s nice that the money has been put to good use, and that is into the practical effects. Having a cameo by Clint Howard is another nice touch too just for that “I know that face from somewhere” moment.

One thing that bugged me though was the style of the violence, it’s more Wolf Creek than Friday the 13th.  The victims get tortured by the killer, with the weapons of choice being average work man’s tools and sometimes it feels that the violence is a little too sadistic for the overall style of the story, where for my taste the slasher horror should have that little level of disbelief to the style of killing.  With this issue not really distracting from the story that much though, the special effects are done well, with an attempt to stick to more practical effects than CGI it does have that old school feel to it which is nice to see as many independent films tend to rely too heavily on CGI now to create the gore they want to get onto the screen.  Yes, CGI is used to a point, but for the scenes where the violence makes you want to cringe the use of practical really ups the tension.  The killer himself could be argued as being quite dull at times, but we don’t need to know much about him.  We have the reason he’s killing and he’s unapologetically psychopathic, that is all we need from a good killer.

When it comes to the characters of the story there is a new phenomenon in horror films for the watcher to really hate the victims because they are either assholes are just characters we feel no empathy for.  Although in Nobody Gets Out Alive we could have a little more development and learn more about the characters who are going to be killed they are all just what we would like to think are typical people.  They are likable and you care about them, they have families outside of the little world of the horror they are put through and more importantly you care.  This actually is a nice change, although it does make it harder to watch the characters get tortured,  this is arguably what makes the horror of the film have more impact so this is a good thing.

I remember when I reviewed the Halloween 2 remake my main complaint about it was that the violence was too realistic and lost it’s fun element and to a point Nobody Gets Out Alive does risk hitting that level of violence for me.  In this type of film I want my violence realistic to a point but still have that cartoonish quality to it.  That being said, Nobody Gets Out Alive is actually a good horror that creates characters that actually have humanity about them and make you care.  I’d argue Nobody Gets Out Alive, although flawed in quite a few ways, is a horror that deserves to be seen and makes me interested to see what the writer/director Jason Christopher moves onto next.

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