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John’s Horror Corner: No One Gets Out Alive (2021), a creepy haunting movie wandering into a rather unique conclusion.

October 19, 2021

MY CALL:  For real, this was different; not great, but good and different. I don’t get to say that very often any more about movies. It’s occasionally brutal and jumpy, but its main ingredient is the creepy unknown into which the story wades. Oh, and by the way, this review is spoiler-free, and that’s frustratingly hard to do with a film like this.  MORE MOVIES LIKE No One Gets Out Alive: Well, for another strange immigrant-centric horror there’s His House (2020). For generally more pleasing films utilizing mystery and/or creep factor, then We Are Still Here (2015; for more serious) and Lights Out (2016; for more fun) should do the trick.

An undocumented immigrant from Mexico Ambar (Cristina Rodlo; The Terror) moves into a boardinghouse for women furnished in timeworn décor, vintage lamps, and old wooden architecture appealing to a gothic atmosphere.

Everyone Ambar meets is a bit strange, whether her loner landlord (Marc Menchaca; Ozark, The Outsider, The Sinner) or the occasional transient tenant. We are left to assume everyone may have a secret or a possible dark connection to the strange goings-on of the perpetually dimly lit hallways. Wandering into her landlord’s office she finds books on indigenous rituals and the occult, an old insect collection, skulls and other curios—not the typical Cleveland, Ohio landlord office, if you ask me.

This film is relentlessly creepy and provokes some good scares. There’s something of a We Are Still Here (2015) vibe as we are introduced to the haunting of the building. Unseen apparitions linger and watch ominously. Likewise, the camera’s gaze often implies the ominous view of a watcher of sorts. That, along with the use of light and dark toying with the audience, reminds me of Lights Out (2016). But despite these soft comparisons to other films, this is clearly doing something all its own and this something doesn’t feel so familiar nor is it presented in a such a way that one could predict where it’s heading.

While we’re patiently waiting to learn exactly what’s going on here, Ambar suffers much misfortune, grief, and increased frightful contact with whatever spirits inhabit the building. She is internally every bit as haunted by the loss of her mother as she is by whatever ethereally skulks the hallways beyond her room.

First time feature director Santiago Menghini creates gripping atmosphere as we view the characters from the darkest recesses of their apartment building, whose photography magnifies the harrowing dark halls. There are some brutal moments, including grisly head-smashing and bone-breaking scenes. But “brutal” does not typify this film. Creepy is its game.

This film was very well-made, unnerving, jumpy, and intense at times—clearly entertaining. It also seemed to go in a different direction than I’ve seen before, and that’s nice. Not sure this is a strong recommendation, but it is definitely watchable and unique. For many of you, I’m sure that’s enough.

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