NO EXIT (DISNEY+) (2022)
SYNOPSIS: In “No Exit,” Havana Rose Liu (“Mayday”) makes her feature film leading role debut as Darby, a young woman en route to a family emergency who is stranded by a blizzard and forced to find shelter at a highway rest area with a group of strangers. When she stumbles across an abducted girl in a van in the parking lot, it sets her on a terrifying life-or-death struggle to discover who among them is the kidnapper.
Despite efforts from reputable filmmakers liked Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg to retain the cinematic magic, streaming is going to be huge if not bigger as the years go. And it’s not just during the pandemic we are talking about. In fact, streaming is the go-to place for movies liked No Exit, a perfunctory mid-budget or low-budget thriller that works perfectly on the small screen.
No Exit which is actually based on a novel by Taylor Adams opens with a recovering drug addict named Darby (Havana Rose Liu) who escaped from a rehab center to visit her terminally ill mother in Salt Lake City. But when the interstates are closed due to an upcoming blizzard, Darby needs to seek shelter at a nearby visitors center where she chanced upon a young girl (whom we learnt is named Jay later on) being kidnapped and tied up in a van.
Darby obviously is not the only person trapped at the visitors center. There’s an interracial married couple, Sandi (Dale Dickey) and Ed (Dennis Haysbert), a strange loner, Lars (David Rysdahl) and a charmer, Ash (Danny Ramirez). Time however is running out for Darby as Jay is suffering from Addison’s disease and she needs her medicine to survive. Will Darby manage to get Jay out in the end or risk getting killed by one of the suspects huddling at the center?
Instead of revealing the killer and motive towards the end liked say, Death on the Nile (2022) or Identity (2003), much of everything you need to know is unravel by the second act. Pathetically, there’s minimal buildup of suspense or thrills to be precise, making it more of a missed opportunity than a worthy whodunit. The occasional violent outburst is unabashedly used probably for shock values. Ultimately, the final screenplay is so simple that we wonder how much details are omitted as compared to the book version.
While the plotting deserves better, newcomer Havana Rose Liu puts in more than decent performance as Darby although the complexity of her character is hardly a wholly original setup. The other commendable factor is the one-location premise which serves as a competent set for the cat-and-mouse game which in turn reminds one of Vacancy (2007), a trashy thriller set in a rundown motel.
Rather than forking out money on an expensive movie ticket plus a tub of overpriced popcorn and considering No Exit is an original release on Disney+, the fast-moving thriller is an easy watch on a weekday’s night at home. Just bear in mind that while it lacks in originality, it wins when it all boils down to economical and efficiency.
Review by Linus Tee