“During a blizzard and stranded at an isolated highway rest stop in the mountains, a college student discovers a kidnapped child hidden in a car belonging to one of the people inside.”

Director: Damien Power
Writers: Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Taylor Adams
Staring: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Mila Harris, Dennis Haybert, Dale Dickey
Release Date: February 25, 2022

No Exit (2022) is nearly my perfect type of genre movie. It is a movie that takes place in mostly in one primary location and has a very, very simple plot. This HULU original mystery thriller has just enough twist and turns to steer it away from the road or normality. It has just enough recognizable faces to give the movie credence and also opens the avenues for new actors to make an impression. No Exit is a breezy viewing experience worthy of the attention.

Darby (Havana Rose Liu) is a young women in a rehab facility struggling with her position in life. She gets a phone call that her mother is dying and when she isn’t given permission to leave, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Darby breaks out, steals a car and begins making her way to her sick mother. Mother Nature however, doesn’t want to cooperate. Darby gets trapped in a massive blizzard and is forced to stay at a rest stop till the storm passes.

At this unexpected pitstop, Darby meets a handful of characters: the pretty boy Ash (Danny Ramirez), the oddball Lars (David Rysdahl), the moral retired military man Ed (Dennis Haysbert) and his wife Sandi (Dale Dickey). Each of these people have secrets, as do any strangers to one another. Darby discovers something she didn’t expect…a young girl by the name of Jay (Mila Harris) tied up and gagged in the back of the a sprinter van. Yea, that is a problem.

Darby intakes this new massive variable and begins poking around trying to find out the truth. This is when the whole thing begins to unravel.

I really loved Havana Rose Liu as Darby. This is only her sixth credit on IMDB, but she had the strongest presence in No Exit. She has the frantic energy that was needed in a movie that was surrounded by the stillness of a blizzard and the quietness of distrust. She has the sorrowful face of someone who doesn’t know what she wants for herself, but she knows she wants to save the girl.

Among all the performances, the only one that I would look at as subpar is David Rysdahl as Lars. Playing the aloof cahoot to Ash (Danny Ramirez), Rysdahl goes over the line a bit too much into the cheesiness factor. He is very much playing a Saturday morning cartoon type of idiot villain side-kick. Ash on the other hand, is a strong villain. Ramirez is sinister and most importantly, not that stupid. Also, the way that he holds a staple gun is somehow more menacing than I would have thought.

Where No Exit also hits its stride is in its brutality. We have characters killed out of the blue. We have characters staple-gunned to the wall. Admittedly I have not read Taylor Adams book of the same name, Damien Power takes his liberties in the final 30 minutes of this story to ensure it is memorable to the audience. It is only Power’s second major motion picture; his first was Killing Ground (2016) which now I will seek out.

If you like Bad Times at the El Royale (2018), and Hotel Artemis (2018), then I have no doubt that you will love No Exit. Sure it is lower budget, but the mystique and ethos of the story and its characters are familiar. Check out No Exit for a departure from the norm and an absorption into a genre-specific flick.

STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)

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