No One Gets Out Alive is a film set in the worst place on Earth. I’m talking, of course, about Cleveland, Ohio.
Still haunted by the death of her mother, Ambar (Cristina Rodlo) has arrived in Cleveland and is looking for a fresh beginning. She hasn’t gotten off to a great start as she’s stuck in a go-nowhere job at a sweatshop. Fortunately, her cousin, Beto (David Barrera), is willing to help Ambar get a better paying job, even though he barely knows her. Unfortunately, Ambar needs a legal ID to get that new job and, as an undocumented immigrant, she doesn’t have one. A co-worker offers to hook her up with a fake ID but it’s going to cost far more money than Ambar has.
As serious as that is, Ambar has an even bigger problem to deal with. She’s recently moved into an apartment. It’s a big apartment in an old building and the only other tenants are two mysterious women from Romania. However, her landlords — Red (Marc Menchaca) and his brother, Becker (David Figiloil) — both seem kind of weird. As Red explains it, Becker is a “little off” but Becker has apparently taken care of Red for his entire life. Personally, I wouldn’t ever rent an apartment from either Red or Becker as they both give off that “sneaking into your apartment and stealing your underwear” vibe but desperate times, I guess.
Even if one could overlook the creepiness of Red and Becker, there’s also the fact that the apartment itself is obviously haunted. Ambar is constantly hearing strange noises and seemingly disembodied conversations. She occasionally sees figures in the shadows. When she takes a shower, a mysterious woman appears on the other side of the shower curtain but promptly vanishes as soon as the curtain is opened. That’s pretty messed up.
But what can Ambar do? She’s in the country illegally so she’s not going to risk calling the police. Beto turns out to be pretty ineffectual. (As a Texan, I appreciated the fact that the movie featured a well-intentioned but thoroughly useless character named Beto.) Maybe in another city, she could find some place better to live but Ambar’s in Cleveland. Haunted pervy death house is as good as anyone can hope for in Cleveland! Ambar is trapped in a place where no one gets out alive.
No One Gets Out Alive is one of those horror films where no one ever seems to turn on the lights. Every single scene in the film is dark and overcast. When Ambar goes outside, the sky is always cloudy. When Ambar returns to her apartment, the lighting is always dim. It creates a properly ominous atmosphere but, at the same time, it also makes it difficult to actually see what’s happening in a few scenes. After a while, the film’s washed-out color scheme and shadowy cinematography goes from being ominous to actually being kind of annoying.
But, if you can overlook or, at least, tolerate the film’s overly drab visual style, No One Gets Out Alive has its effective moments. The apartment building is a nicely creepy location and, even if some of the scares are a bit generic, they still often work. Cristina Rodlo is sympathetic in the role of Ambar and the character’s status as an undocumented immigrant adds an interesting subtext to her being at the mercy of the building’s inhabitants. Without any legal status, there’s nothing she can do once it becomes apparent that Red and Becker have an agenda of their own. Her pursuit of the American dream becomes a nightmare once she realizes that, living in Cleveland without any legal ID, she might as well not exist.
No One Gets Out Alive is one of those films that starts out a bit slow but it improves as it goes. Though I wish someone had turned on the lights, it’s an effective horror film that you can find on Netflix.