Written by: Matt Patti | September 29th, 2021
No One Gets Out Alive (Santiago Menghini, 2021) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Attempting to fulfill the American Dream as an immigrant is tough enough, in and of itself. Many will make the journey to America for individual opportunities but are met with hostility, poor living conditions, difficulty finding work, and an overall uphill battle. But, when a supernatural force at your already run-down place of residence keeps you awake at night, could life be any more difficult? Director Santiago Menghini, making his feature debut, explores this very terrifying possibility in No One Gets Out Alive.
In the film, Mexican immigrant Ambar (Cristina Rodlo, Miss Bala) moves to America to pursue a better life for herself after years of taking care of her sick mother. Now living in Cleveland, she finds a job as a seamstress but does not impress her strict, ill-tempered boss. After her shifts, she returns to the room that she rents at an old, dilapidated boarding house. She is told there is only one other woman living at the house, but hears many strange noises at night and gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right. To add to the confusion, Ambar experiences strange, vivid dreams of her now-deceased mother and a mysterious ancient box. Will Ambar be able to achieve the life she’s always wanted, or will her housing predicament prevent her from doing so?
The film highlights many of the common struggles immigrants face in America: low income, language barriers, uncertainty, and the feeling of being alone in a whole new world. Ambar is not entirely alone, however, as she has some distant family in the area. But when they go on a weekend trip, Ambar is left completely isolated. Director Menghini does great work drawing the audience in and having them sympathize with Ambar and her situation even before the creepier events begin to take place. When the paranormal aspects pick up, they are quite effective. Frightening imagery and gruesome sequences combine to create genuine horror, though the film suffers from a bit too many dream sequences.
No One Gets Out Alive does leave a bit to be desired in the presentation of the mystery plot. Viewers can more times than not see where the film is going and many aspects are quite predictable. The film mainly stays within its bounds and not many surprises are to be found. There are also a few specific plot points near the end of the film that make little sense and may confuse many viewers. Still, No One Gets Out Alive presents a unique story with a relatable central character the audience can root for and succeeds with above-average horror elements. The film will make anyone watching hope that no immigrant would ever have to experience the combined natural and unnatural horrors Ambar faces.