‘How far would you go for a stranger?’
No Exit is a 2022 American thriller about a young woman who becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot amidst a raging blizzard.
Directed by Damien Power (Killing Ground) from a screenplay written by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (Ant-Man and the Wasp) based on Taylor Adams’ 2017 novel of the same name. Produced by PGA Award winner Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit).
The 20th Century Studios-Flintcraft production stars Havana Rose Liu, making her feature film leading role debut, Danny Ramirez (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), David Rysdahl (Nine Days), Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone), Mila Harris (Young Dylan) and Dennis Haysbert (Breakthrough).
After she learns that her mother is in the hospital and possibly on the verge of death, Darby (Hannah Rose Liu) breaks out of drug rehab, steals a car, and starts driving to Salt Lake City. However, what Darby doesn’t know is that she’s also driving straight into a blizzard. Soon, Darby is forced to take shelter at a nearby state park visitors centre.
Darby isn’t the only person seeking shelter that night. There’s a married couple, Ed (Dennis Haysbert) and Sandi (Dale Dickey). Ed is a veteran of the Marine Corp while Sandi is a nurse. There’s Ash (Danny Ramirez), who has the friendliest smile to ever be seen in the middle of a blizzard. And then there’s Lars (David Rysdahl), who is distinguished by his long hair and his nervous mannerisms. When Darby first enters the visitors centre, Lars is curled up in a corner and loudly snoring.
Unfortunately, there is also Jay (Mila Harris). Jay is a child who happens to be bound and gagged in one of the vehicles parked outside. When Darby discovers her, she has to not only save the child’s life but also figure out which one of the people in the visitors centre is responsible for kidnapping her.
No Exit is full of twists and turns. Not all of the film’s twists work, of course. There are a few moments that, in hindsight, didn’t exactly make sense. After watching the film, you could spend hours debating why certain characters did the things that they did, assuming that you were so inclined and that you could actually find anyone else willing to sit through your analysis.
However, the film itself is so quickly paced and well-directed that it doesn’t matter that the story itself is occasionally a bit implausible. From the minute Darcy breaks out of that rehab, the film captures the viewer’s attention and it doesn’t let go until the final credits start to roll up the screen.
This is an entertaining B-movie, one that makes good use of its isolated location and its talented cast. Havana Rose Liu especially deserves a lot of credit for her sympathetic lead performance as Darby. Darby is a cynic and a survivor but she still has enough humanity inside of her to risk her life for a stranger.
The film looks great, with its scenes of cars driving through the raging snowstorm and the film’s cast gathered in the somewhat tacky visitors centre. All of the snow falling reminded me of I’m Thinking of Ending Things and I have to admit that a part of me kept expecting there to be some sort of a metaphysical twist towards the end of the film.
I found myself wondering if the visitors centre would be revealed to be Hell, which wasn’t a totally outlandish idea when one considers that the film shares the same name as Sartre’s famous play. But no, No Exit is a thriller that deals with concerns that are very much earthbound. It’s well-executed and an entertaining way to spend 95 minutes.
Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
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