Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: An immigrant in search of the American dream is forced to take a room in a boarding house. She soon finds herself in a nightmare she can’t escape.
Review: Horror movies with deeper messages are nothing new. Some like Hereditary or The Babadook challenge you to see beyond the literal scares while keeping the cerebral stuff subtle, while movies like No One Gets Out Alive make it quite clear what they’re trying to say. Sadly the message here about the real terror that goes with being an illegal immigrant is weighed down by a messy execution.
Ambar (Christina Rodlo) just arrived in the US from Mexico and is hoping to earn a degree in business management. But she has a few hurdles to jump and they aren’t easy ones. She doesn’t have an ID so she can’t move from her location and relocate for school. The cost of her new identity keeps going up due to the unscrupulous people she has to deal with, and she’s forced to rent a cheap room in a place called Schofield Heights. Before you can say “dead mother”, she’s having nightmares, seeing ghostly apparitions and believes she’s hearing screams coming from the basement. Is any of it real, or is Ambar cracking under the pressure?
Director Santiago Menghini starts off with a strong opening scene of another young woman who is also an illegal immigrant and who gets accosted by spectres while a strange box moves on its own. I wish I could say the rest of the movie was as interesting but the tone of this flick is all over the place.
I never really got a sense of who Ambar was as a person. I know what she wants to accomplish, I know she had a sick mother who died, but sadly actress Christina Rodlo doesn’t seem to connect emotionally to the material, so everything that happens to her leaves little to no impact on the viewer. There are other women in the house but because their characters aren’t fleshed out you won’t care what happens to them, which is truly sad when you think about their situations. Compare this to last year’s fantastically crafted and superbly performed His House. There wasn’t a moment in that movie where I didn’t feel absolute dread for that couple. I cared, they made me care, which made the everything they went through that much more terrifying. None of that emotional nuance is in No One and the only sparks of life I could find here was in the first and last acts.
The conclusion is where this movie shines. We get actual stakes, tension, gore and a creature that made me say out loud WTAF! Where was all of this for the last 45 minutes? This is what I meant by messy execution. No One is trying to be two very different types of horror movies (haunted house and psychological horror) and honestly I wish they had stuck with the haunted house stuff because it’s the only time things feel in anyway interesting.
I empathise with what these desperate people have to go through. And I won’t even pretend to understand how terrifying it must be to leave everything you know behind to try and start a new life with literally nothing but yourself to rely on. No One Gets Out Alive could’ve been great ff only the movie could pick a tone and stick with it. Sadly, in the end it’s just feels hollow and ultimately will be forgotten among movies that tackled these types of issues in a much more memorable way.
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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