We are entering the season for frights and thrills. Some films will ice the blood, some a chill, and others a yawn. NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE, directed by Santiago Menghini, is between the chill and yawn category. NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE is based on a novel by Adam Nevill, with the story by Jon Croker. Despite compelling elements and decent scares, NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE lacks memorability. Middling acting with a weak story makes the film easy to forget. Still, if you’re in the market for some jump scares, you could do worse. The film is about an immigrant, Ambar (Cristina Rodlo), who takes a room in a boarding house and, despite terrifying occurrences, winds up unable to escape. Some spoilers ahead, so here’s your warning.
The opening scene shows an Afro-Latina woman, Simona (Joana Borja), chatting with someone on the phone in the boarding house. Suddenly, she sees footprints, the electricity and phone cut out, and she sees a mysterious box behind her. There’s also a glowing-eyed terrifying woman that she doesn’t see. As the box inches forward, the woman grabs her; Simona screams as the camera backs away. The scene makes little sense by the end credits as we never see these spirits snatch anyone else ever again. They reenact their past with the other trapped souls, but that’s it. The scare was for the audience and had no logical point in the film.
With her friend Beto’s (David Barrera) help, Ambar tries to pursue the American dream, but Beto doesn’t know she is undocumented. When she moves into the sketchy boarding house, run by white brothers Red (Marc Menchaca) and Becker (David Figlioli), she feels fortunate at first. Ambar has some money after moving into the boarding house and giving Red a deposit but gets ripped off by a coworker, Kinsi (Moronke Akinola), who promised to get her an ID. The only dark-skinned Black character in NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE is the one who steals Ambar’s money.
Immigrants are usually victims of violence and exploitation because they have few options for help. Red is annoying like a typical white guy; that sees a Hispanic or Latine person and feels now’s the time to bust out their microaggression with words like “hombre.” NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE does a decent job portraying those aspects. But there’s little else besides it save for decent scares.
I loved the look of the ghosts in Oculus, and in NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE, the spirits have the same appearance. Ambar’s nightmares don’t come from the box itself but from her past. Taking care of an ailing parent at the expense of living your life creates pain and guilt when your loved one passes. That’s why Ambar regularly listens to a voicemail her mom left her. Those nightmare moments are creepy and caught me off guard a few times. Those moments hold tension.
Cristina Rodlo does a decent job acting, as does David Barrera, Marc Menchaca, and David Figlioli. But a murky story, purpose, and unimpressive dialogue does not help. Because there’s little substance in the story, there’s no meaningful connection to any characters. So, as events unfold, there’s mild interest. The mystery is never clearly resolved. We see what’s in the box, but the who and why are not explored in detail. We don’t know the extent of the creature’s abilities, where it came from, or what the moths and butterflies have to do with any of it. There are also foolish moments that Cristina’s character does that will cause you to yell at the screen. By the end of the film, you’re just wondering what happened, and the only parts that stick out are the scares.
NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE does not do enough fleshing out the story, so it’s easily forgotten. Some scenes cause you to jump, but that’s not enough to make NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE great; just okay.
NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE is now available to view exclusively on Netflix.