No One Gets Out Alive

No One Gets Out Alive ★★★½

The immigrant experience, with its perpetual trials and tests of spirit, is terrifying. What we regularly hear on the news is only a glimpse of the horrors families face when seeking a better life. And with a fear-stoking media that deals in extremes, that's a terrifying thought in and of itself. Last night, I read—more like attempted to read—an article about one family's journey from Honduras that sincerely gave me enough anxiety that I had to put it down. I'll never see what these families do to make it to a country that offers them a semblance of a better existence as anything less than extraordinary, especially when I know they'll likely arrive only to be discriminated against and take on jobs that most wouldn't even consider.

Now, merging the horrors of that very real, very scary experience with those of the supernatural persuasion is a tricky task, no matter who attempts to pull it off. Santiago Menghini manages to do just that in his 'NO ONE GETS ALIVE' by leaning into an authentic portrayal of what it's like for those lucky enough to make it across the border and never letting us forget it once the spooky metaphors creep in. And spooky, if a bit heavy-handed, they are. Menghini's film is nimble and ramps up its haunted house rollercoaster nicely, letting the pieces fall into place before our protagonist realizes just how accurate the film's title is.

There is a lot woven into this film's tight 85-minute runtime that you'd be remiss for not recognizing at first glance. To its credit, Cristina Rodio is a fine lead, well up to the task of making us feel the dread of her predicament and the nuances of those details. She convincingly channels the loneliness inherent to her character's experience and the evolution that takes place when she realizes that she'll have to fight much harder just because of where she was born. 'ALIVE' is a polished, unnerving watch that, while familiar in parts, lingers because of its strict focus on the truth in its frights.

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