By: Amanda Guarragi
There are plenty of things to be scared about, especially when it involves being snowed in with strangers. We all have that one phobia that affects us when watching a movie and it’ll be hard to get through it. Whether it’s being stranded with no cell service, falling through the ice, or even being locked inside closed quarters, the anxiety is high in those moments. The one thing that No Exit does well is build the anticipation during those difficult moments. In this film, we are stuck in this blizzard with Darby (Havana Rose Liu), who happens to be stranded at an isolated highway rest stop in the mountains. She then discovers a kidnapped child hidden in a car belonging to one of the people inside.
What starts out as a clean escape for Darby from rehab becomes an evening filled with mystery in trying to figure out whose child is duct-taped in the back seat. In a way, Darby does see herself in the young girl named Jay (Mila Harris) because she is also someone who needs help. As the film goes on and Darby gets to know the people she’s snowed in with and they are all very interesting people. We do have the stereotypical look of a kidnapper and things get worse as the film goes on. It is a very slow burn with not much going on, other than trying to escape the area and get cell service. It tries to build the anticipation, but ultimately the story isn’t strong enough to carry out the conventions of a thriller.
Darby also finds out who she can trust early on and it’s always sad to see someone fall through. After the card game “bullshit”, which is very telling of how good someone is at lying, she finds out the hard way. The characters in this film are fairly generic and the performances aren’t strong enough to make them interesting. Director Damien Power does make an attempt to make it interesting at times, especially when new information comes into play. Sometimes book adaptations don’t really translate well to screen because majority of the character backstories aren’t being explored onscreen. No Exit feels like a very detailed story with strong character development for Darby, but it never gets there in the film.
No Exit is a thriller that doesn’t quite stick the landing. Once they venture out into the forest during the blizzard it loses its footing and relies on shock value in the third act to bring it home. The characters feel conveniently placed to work with the big reveal, instead of it unfolding naturally. This is where the direction ultimately falters because it didn’t really structure the story in a way to service these characters. They also saved the gore and violence for the end, which doesn’t really match the tone of the first half of this film. It became a bit much and didn’t really work for me towards the end of the film. The title stays true throughout because even good people can’t exit the evils of this world.