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No Exit -- In “No Exit,” a young woman en route to a family emergency becomes 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. (Courtesy of 20th Century Studios)

No Exit

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What it’s about:

When a distressed young woman stumbles upon an abducted young girl in a van at a rest area in the middle of a blizzard, she sets out to discover who captured the girl and initiates her own rescue plan in this surprising thriller.

Names you might know:

Havana Rose Lui (Mayday, The Sky is Everywhere) leads the cast along with veterans Dennis Haysbert and Dale Dickey. The screenplay was developed by the phenomenal team of Andrew Barrer and Gabrielle Ferrari (responsible for Ant-Man and The Wasp). Directed by Damien Power (Killing Ground).

Why it’s worth your time:
20th Century Studios

Let’s start with the protagonist and the performance: Havana Rose Lui is outstanding in the lead role of Darby. Upon learning that her mother has suffered an aneurysm, Darby escapes from a court-ordered rehab facility. When a storm disrupts her plans, she’s forced to take shelter with four strangers at a rest area.

Darby has lived through so much (including run-ins with the law) that she must use her past to survive, literally and figuratively. By the end of the film, you’ll be asking yourself, “If not for her past, could she have been resourceful enough to make it through the first half of the movie?”

From her strong disdain for authority to her love for her family, Lui hits every emotional note with authenticity. She convincingly endures obstacles thrown in her character’s path and executes more than believable moments of pain and anguish. This includes keeping her composure in front of the others while not giving away her knowledge of the kidnapped little girl.

Also very much worth mentioning are Dennis Haysbert (24, Lucifer), who is gripping in the role of retired veteran Ed; David Rysdahl as the creepy and awkward Lars; and Danny Ramirez as the quick-witted Ash. They are all deliver in keeping up a veil of mystery, making it difficult to decide who Darby can trust.

Director Damien Power utilizes wide shots to emphasize how isolated the characters are in the snowstorm. The dark hues and dim lights contribute to the intensity of certain scenes while adding the chill to the location’s setting.  Stuck in turmoil during in a snowstorm could represent Darby’s struggle with her addiction, which Power explores through transitions and flashbacks — when she is tempted to indulge in some cocaine found during her getaway.

20th Century Studios

Usually, with thriller films where the antagonist is unknown, I can predict who the guilty party is before it is revealed. But with No Exit, the characters and set up make it difficult, a refreshing change.  And the twist at the end isn’t added simply for shock value; it makes you see the entire movie in a new light.

No Exit is squeamish and tense at times, but it also carries enough emotional weight to create a a cinematic balance.

The takeaway:

A slow-paced, unpredictable thriller with a surprise twist, No Exit challenges the viewer as it tests its protagonist to overcome her painful past. The chilling world and intense final act make the movie a must-watch.

Watch it with:

Watch with a friend or two because you’ll have fun figuring out who the antagonist is. Fans of films like Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful 8 or Misery will enjoy No Exit.

Worth noting:

The film is based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Taylor Adams.

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