An immigrant in search of the American dream who, after being forced to take a room in a boarding house, finds herself in a nightmare she can’t escape.
Release Date: 2021 | Runtime: 1hr 26min | Genre: Horror | Source: Streaming
No One Gets Out Alive Review
No One Gets Out Alive is a fantastic name for a horror movie and one I’m surprised hasn’t been used before. I didn’t even know the story, but I heard that name and knew I needed to fire it up. Is the title applicable to the movie itself? Nope, not really, but I wanted to say something nice at the top before I start saying some other not so kind stuff.
No One Gets Out Alive is based on the novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. I haven’t read the book but I am tempted now to see if it fleshes out the plot. So here we got Ambar (Cristina Rodlo), a Mexican immigrant who is living in Cleveland after losing her mother. She moves into an old boarding house that is run by moderately creepy Red (Marc Menchaca) and his absolutely creepy brother, Becker (David Figlioli). Is the place haunted? I’ll give you one guess.
The first half of this movie has a lot of potential. The boarding house is a good setting and there is great use of sound as Ambar hears a series of creaks and groans during the night. It is unsettling without relying on incessant jump scares. We catch glimpses of ghosts, often lurking around in the background, as well as a mysterious box that is clearly not housing anything good. The set-up got me and then the back half made it pretty clear that nearly all of that potential was going to be squandered.
I found myself more invested in Ambar’s struggles with being an immigrant versus her struggles with a bunch of asshole ghosts. She is facing constant problems with money, her job and people taking advantage of her naivety and I would have been completely fine with watching the version of the movie that focused on that. I sometimes found the question of “oh shit where is she going to get money from now?!” more stressful than the question of “oh fuck is that a ghost happening over there?!” I wanted good things for Ambar and Rodlo is terrific in the role.
Most of my complaints lie in the back half of the movie. There are several mysteries set-up, with the biggest being, in the words of Brad Pitt, “what’s in the fucking box?!” We do eventually find out what’s in the fucking box and …wow. I honestly don’t know if it’s incredibly stupid or incredibly amazing. I went back and forth from second to second on that. It’s a swing for the fences either way and I have to at least respect that.
As for the other plot threads, none of them are tied up in a way that feels satisfying or conclusive or good. I’m fine with movies that don’t answer every question and let the audience draw their own interpretation, but we at least need the pieces to do so and I didn’t feel they were provided here. A bunch of things happen and then the movie ends and instead of taking the time to put everything together, I just shrugged and moved on. I felt no desire to look into the meanings or rewatch it to see what I may have missed. There’s simply not enough there to make me want to devote more time to this.
I’ve read that No One Gets Out Alive is a very loose adaptation of the book so I would still be interested in reading it as there is a lot of potential with the story. It’s the way the movie executes on it that is disappointing. Things largely played out as expected and the twists are mostly predictable, outside of the insanity that comes crawling out of the box in the final act. It has moments but not enough of them for me to recommend you spend your time here.
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