‘Alkhallat+’ Explained: How Do Deception And Deceit Unite The Four Stories In The Netflix Saudi Dark Comedy?

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Directed by Fahad Alammari, “Alkhallat+” is a shortened version of a series by the same name that got popular globally, and the film is Netflix’s first Saudi venture. Comprising four short stories, it is the theme of deception, deceit, and consequence, which is not always equal to the crimes, that brings these all together. For those keeping interest in watching global content, “Alkhallat+” is definitely entertaining and enjoyable. The overall gleam of Netflix’s production, combined with the dark comedy style, makes it a perfect Saudi debut.

Spoilers Ahead


‘Alkhallat+’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

‘Alkhallat+’ presents four tales from modern-day Saudi Arabia with a range of characters from different social classes as well as from different sides of the line of morality. The first story presents Faysal and his two friends, who are caught in the act of stealing the tires of a car and consequently find themselves sneaking into a rich family wedding. The second tale is of Sara, who is a chef at a modern 5-star restaurant, and her attempt to save her parents’ failing marriage by secretly arranging a dinner for them at the posh restaurant. In the third story, a man desperately tries to hide his best friend’s well-kept secret after the latter is suddenly killed in a car accident. The fourth story is of a family of four that arrives at a luxurious and expensive hotel, where an unlikely bond is struck up between the strict father and his teenage son. What unites these four tales is a common thread of lies and deceit, as a fair amount of hoodwinking is involved in each of them. All four also present consequences for these lies, although these consequences are not always the best or fairest scenarios thinkable. A message that flashes after the end of the first story reads, “Whoever has a trick in their bag, they can use it.” This seems to become the main motif in ‘Alkhallat+’ as the characters try to use one trick after another to fulfill their objectives.


What Happens When Three Tire Thieves Are Caught In The Act?

On the day of his sister’s wedding, a young man named Turky is in a desperate search for some privacy as he wants to smoke a cigarette before they are supposed to leave for the venue of the ceremony. After being constantly interrupted by his family members walking wherever Turky tries to light his smoke, the man considers it best to do so outside on the streets by their car. As Turky lights up his cigarette while standing by their car, though, another man peeks out at him from the other side. It is very clear within moments what has been going on—two men have been stealing the tires off the car and taking them away in their own pickup truck, driven by a third thief. As soon as Turky realizes this heinous happening, he gives the thieves a chase on foot, but the pickup truck catches up to them, and the thieves jump onto it. However, the thief driving the truck, Yehia, realizes that the vehicle’s gearbox is stuck, and they move at a very slow pace, making Turky run closer to their car every moment. Seeing no other option to escape the situation, one of the thieves sitting at the back of the truck pushes the other out so that Turky can get hold of him and stops the chase. This is exactly what happens, and Turky brings the thief, named Faysal, back to his house. Once the family gets hold of new tires for their car and drives to the ceremony venue, Faysal is also brought along with them and is left tied in the front seat of the car. Yehia, who is apparently the mastermind of this whole plan, and his other thief friend (who also seems to be named Faysal) arrive at this same venue following the family’s car. Yehia is scared that Faysal will spill about them when the family turns him in to the law, so he and his friend decide to look for the hostage Faysal and somehow rescue him.

What follows is a series of comic scenes with nervous tension as the friend poses as a coffee server to fit in at the place and keeps taking unnecessary risks. On the other hand, Yehia finds the family car and also Faysal tied inside it, but he takes his sweet time making use of the situation to eke out apologies about trivial previous arguments from Faysal. Thus, by the time he is actually about to help Faysal, the family members return to the place, and Yehia has to hide away. Faysal is being taken inside the marriage hall by the family now, as they want to ridicule him further. They serve him the grand marriage meal but keep his hands tied together, saying that he should eat with his hands tied. Yehia spots this and arrives at the scene, posing to be Faysal’s lawyer, and shakily tries to threaten the family that the thief could sue them for kidnapping and harassing him. This does work initially, but the arrival of a police officer, who is a guest at the ceremony, turns everything upside down, as the official is made to sit at the same table. The officer then dismisses everything that Yehia has been saying so far, and Yehia hurriedly leaves the scene.

A perfect moment of escape arrives soon when a child sets his pet lizard into the women’s gathering hall, and a commotion breaks out. Yehia and his friend reach Faysal and accompany him out of the city to escape in their car. However, this time, as Yehia is about to get into their pickup truck, he sees a man looking at him from the other side, and this man is none other than Turky’s father. The latter had also come out of the venue to smoke a cigarette secretly, and he immediately understood that Yehia and his friend, who had been posing to be his guests for so long, were companions of the thief Faysal. At this very same time, Turky and the police officer also come to the scene, and Yehia, Faysal, and their third friend are arrested by the authorities. It is the act of smoking a cigarette sneaking away from one’s family that gets both the discoveries made. Turky sees the thieves when he is out for a smoke, and then, his father gets them caught when the latter is out for the same purpose. Realizing that he has enough leverage against the elderly man, Turky casually asks his father for a cigarette, as they will now keep each other’s secret of being smokers.


Is Sara Able To Save Her Parents’ Marriage?

One day during her work as a chef at a posh restaurant, Sara Khambouly is extremely tense about how the evening is about to go. This is no ordinary day for Sara, as she has prepared for a very important dinner to help her parents out. Despite being married for many years now, her parents’ relationship is about to fall apart as her mother has asked for a divorce. In order to somehow change her mind, Sara has planned a dinner for the two of them at her restaurant, while the mother has no idea about her role in it. On her side are the restaurant’s deputy manager, Muhannad, and the main hostess, Hend, both of whom help Sara get her parents a table at the place. The woman had asked Muhannad to keep one of the tables reserved for her parents, but the deputy manager kept aside the best table in the restaurant for them. To do so, he had canceled the earlier reservation for this table and did not pay much attention to who had made this earlier booking. As it turns out later, this booking was of the parents of the restaurant owner, and the head manager Kareem came out of vacation to attend to them personally. By the time Kareem arrives at the place, the Khamboulys have already taken their seats at the table and ordered their food. Kareem gradually grows a hunch that the guests are not who he thinks them to be, and finally learns from the restaurant owner, through a phone call, that the reservation made by the latter’s parents had been canceled by the restaurant. Going through the records, Kareem realizes that Muhannad must have cut off the previous reservation and gotten the Khamboulys the fancy table at the exclusive restaurant.

On the other side, Sara’s father keeps up his attempts to woo back his estranged wife, even though the surroundings are quite unfamiliar to him. The man is shocked at the fact that there is no separate seating for women and family, and he also prohibits his wife from unveiling herself even to eat. Sara’s father is clearly a man with conservative values and beliefs, while the mother seems to be more liberal-minded. ‘Alkhallat+’ does not delve into this difference with any seriousness, though, and instead treats it in a comical manner.

Meanwhile, Sara and Muhannad go to all lengths to hide their plan from Kareem while also making her parents reunite, and this gets in the way of the restaurant’s general service as well. Food prepared for a different table is served to the Khamboulys only to make them wait less time. Sara also takes a gold-dipped rose from a special cake that was being prepared in the kitchen and sends it over to her parents’ table. While Mrs. Khambouly is heavily impressed by this, which she thinks is a gift from her husband, the special cake falls apart when cut as the rose was integral to its balance. Finally, when Kareem confronts Sara about her trickery, she has to come clean to him. Unlike how the man had seemed to be till now, Kareem actually helps Sara with her plan, saying that she should also join them at the table in plain clothes, and he seems to support her activities. Sara does so, and ultimately, by the end, her plan is a huge success. Her parents are extremely happy with their evening together, and they decide to reconcile and even leave the place together. However, Kareem then calls Sara to his office and hands him a letter of termination, saying that this was the consequence of her actions. Even though Sara is able to save her parent’s marriage, she had to pay a huge price for it as she lost her job. Even though Kareem seemed to be a kind-hearted man, he turned out to be a very fiendish representative of the authority. At first, he gives hope to the woman, who was, after all, trying to do a good deed, and then he cuts her off from her livelihood.


What Was Fahd’s Secret That Hamad Was Trying to Protect?

After a horrific car accident, a man named Fahd passes away tragically, while his best friend Hamad manages to survive with a fractured arm. Despite going through his pains, though, Hamad rushes to the hospital morgue, where the corpse of his friend is kept with a clear intention in mind. Fahd confided in Hamad and told him about his biggest secret in life, and the friend considers it his responsibility to not let it get out. But the fact that Fahd’s phone is now kept as one of the man’s belongings that were found on him during his death, and also the fact that his mourning wife Reem might just go through it makes Hamad’s situation all the more urgent. Hurrying to the morgue, he consoles Reem while managing to keep Fahd’s phone away from her. Reem’s tearful admiration for her dead husband’s faithfulness towards her and a phone call from someone named Noor coming to Fahd’s phone at the same time make us privy to his secret.

Despite being married to Reem, Fahd was having an extramarital affair with a woman named Noor, perhaps for a long time. Hamad had known of this and was now considering it his utmost responsibility to never let Reem know about it. But the widow does eventually take notice of the phone call, even though she does not see the name of the caller yet, and Hamad makes up ridiculous stories to keep it away from her. He says that his best friend had entrusted him with the duties of donating to a charitable organization, for which he needs to keep the phone with him, and he also says that the person calling the phone is Fahd’s laundry guy. He even asks the wife if she knows what the passcode for her late husband’s phone is, and this makes the woman even more suspicious. Reem soon sneaks into the morgue room to get hold of her husband’s phone, and after trying multiple failed passcodes, she decides to get the phone unlocked by getting the dead body’s face scanned on it. For this, Reem even has to make her dead husband wear his usual glasses, but by now, she doesn’t mind doing anything to understand what is going on.

As Reem searches through the phone for anything suspicious, Hamad realizes that she has unlocked it as he sees his dead friend online on multiple social apps. He tries to ask Reem for the phone, but she denies having it. Now out of any other choice, Hamad starts calling up Noor to tell her to delete all chats and call history between her and Fahd. But Noor, who still has no idea what has happened to her lover, is busy in the shower and misses all the calls. Trying to think of what to do next, the best friend crosses all limits and steals a hospital van to drive to Noor’s house and warn her about the situation. What he does not realize, though, is that while he had to back up close to the hospital to get away from the place, Reem had sneakily climbed into the van and stayed hidden inside. Hamad reaches Noor’s house and tells her everything when Noor receives calls from Fahd’s phone. Thinking that Reem is calling from the hospital, Hamad picks up the call and pretends to be the laundry guy. Reem soon walks out from behind the van with a disgusted look on her face, and all Hamad can do is blabber foolishly. Back at the hospital’s prayer memorial service, it is announced that a prayer service is being held for two men and a woman at the same time. It is clear from a conversation nearby that the two men are Fahd and his best friend Hamad, who apparently died out of shock and grief only a few hours after his friend’s death. As can be understood, Reem has killed Hamad out of rage, and the dead woman is surely her late husband’s illicit lover Noor, who has also been killed by the vengeful widow.

Arguably the cleverest work among the four stories in “Alkhallat+,” this tale is filled with dark humor and tense moments. What is hilarious is the fact that none of these things would have probably happened if Hamad had not taken it upon himself to hide his friend’s secret. Reem’s praises of her husband’s honesty and faithfulness toward the beginning seemed extremely genuine. Besides, there was probably even a reconciliation on the way for the couple, too, as Fahd had texted Reem just before his accident that he had something to tell her. As Hamad does not know this, he feels it is urgent to keep his friend’s character spotless, and so he indulges in this massive plan of foolery, which ultimately gets him killed.


How Does Khaled’s And His Son’s Relationship Change After Their Stay At A Fancy Hotel?

Khaled Al Hanuni is a worker for the Saad Construction Company, and as part of the benefits of his job, he earns a complimentary three-night stay at a luxurious hotel. Allowed to bring one more guest with him, Khaled brings along his wife, Um Saud, and checks in at the reception. The man is new to experiencing such a luxurious lifestyle and is determined to make the most of the opportunity, including the complimentary breakfast buffet that is to be served every morning. Even though the man tells the receptionist that the couple has left their children back at home, this is soon revealed to be completely false. Khaled has brought along his two children—a teenage son and a young daughter—and plans to sneak them into the room without informing the hotel, as the complimentary holiday is only for two. Late that night, the son finds out that his favorite footballer, Abdullah Booz, is in the nightclub of the very same hotel, and he sneaks out of their room to get a photo with the celebrity. As the son introduces himself to Abdullah, a flock of fans rushes towards them, and the footballer quickly has to get into the nightclub. In the spur of the moment, the son also gets pushed inside and finds himself in the lavish world of the rich and glamorous. During this same time, though, Khaled realizes that his son is missing from their room and goes in search of him through the hotel.

There seems to be a commentary on the relationship between children and their fathers in Asian families that is presented in this last story. As a father, Khaled is quite controlling and strict about his children’s lives and their actions. But he, too, has certain interests in things that are generally considered prohibited, just as his teenage son does as well. Both the father and the son are mesmerized by the nightclub and its entrance, knowing well that neither of them is allowed inside. Later in the night, Khaled pays his way through the hotel authorities to find out that his son has entered the nightclub, and he, too, does the same. Just as he spots his son at the place along with the celebrity footballer, Khaled’s wife messages him, asking where he and their son had gone off to. As proof of their son’s decadence, he shoots a video of the latter, and this becomes the boy’s tool of escape. The son informs Abdullah that someone has taken a video of him, and the footballer sends his guards after Khaled, as a video of him celebrating with alcohol and women after his team’s loss would be scandalous. Khaled manages to outwit the guards and chases his son through the dancing bodies of the neon-lit nightclub. Finally, when the two catch up with each other, the son has to save Khaled from trouble. After all, no harm has been done, as neither of them has drunk alcohol or done anything prohibited by religion or society. When Khaled tries to take the upper hand against his son, saying that he has seen what he has been up to, the son retorts that he, too, has seen his father partying with alcohol and friends.

Khaled clarifies that this was the doing of a colleague of his and that he did not drink, but he also realizes that he has no upper hand at all. To both of them, there is a scarier figure at the moment, who is Khaled’s wife, as she is in search of her missing husband and son. When the couple entered the hotel for the first time, Um Saud noticed the nightclub and remarked how she did not like the place. Khaled had made her believe that this was no nightclub but a marriage hall so that she would not refuse to stay at the hotel and cancel the holiday altogether. Khaled and his son get clothes from Abdullah by threatening to leak his video and disguise themselves to return to their hotel room. By the time Um Saud returns to the room, she finds the two of them playing chess enthusiastically. All seems well when the young daughter suddenly takes notice of the mark of entry to the nightclub on Khaled’s hand and excitedly shows it to her mother. With his actions sure to be out in front of his wife now, Khaled tries to claim that it was all his son’s doing, and it was only to get their son back that Khaled had to enter the nightclub.


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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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