Friday, March 4, 2022

HOTCHKA Movie Review: No Exit

© 20th Century Studios

No Exit is a simple horror film with plenty of twists

by Justin Moore

Cast: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Mila Harris, Dennis Haysbert
Rating: ★★

Damien Power’s new film, No Exit, hit Hulu this weekend. The film was supposed to be released in theaters, but Disney decided to pull the film after the Fox merger. Disney’s decision was a smart move as it certainly feels like a film fit for a streaming service.

Darby (Havana Rose Liu) is stuck in rehab and wants nothing to do with her therapy sessions. She gets a call about her mother, who suffered from a brain aneurysm, and decides to hot wire a nurse’s car and head to her mother. She gets caught up in a snowstorm and is forced to stop at a remote rest stop with four strangers and no cell phone service. Darby discovers a young girl tied up in a van and must determine the identify of the kidnapper to save the girl’s life.

No Exit is adapted from the 2017 novel by Taylor Adams but feels like a story that would be released in 2006. The mid 2000s had plenty of solid horror films that felt simple and isolated. They weren’t relying on supernatural elements to further their story. I appreciated the more simpler horror films that the mid 2000s offered and that’s probably why I enjoyed No Exit so much.

© 20th Century Studios

No Exit
comes with plenty of twists that kept me engaged with the film. With having not read the story, it was thrilling to see how the characters interacted with each other. With its quick pace, the characters hardly had any time to grow but there was enough mystery surrounding the characters to where I started forming my own theories about the situation. The film does an excellent job creating a tense atmosphere that allows for every character that Darby meets at the rest stop feel like the main suspect. The most trustworthy characters were Sandi (Dale Dickey), a retired nurse, and Ed (Dennis Haysbert), a former Marine. Even though they were the characters that most likely weren’t the kidnappers, the film manages to still give you moments to make you think otherwise. Liu serves as the final girl in the film and handles the role well. She is a complex character who uses her drug addiction as a way to fight in the final showdown.

Twists and turns come early in the film, which did worry me a bit, but luckily there were more surprises down the road. After a few different twists, the film started to lose its touch and the reveals were less exciting. Some moments were surprising but there were some that were painfully predictable. The film offered one too many twists but by the end of it all, it worked for what it was.

It’s a simple horror that manages to create a tense atmosphere with limited number of characters and nowhere for them to go. It’s not reinventing the wheels but uses its limited setting to deliver thrills and chills. It's worth a watch for its simplicity, its quick pace, and its familiarity. If you’re looking for a suspenseful film that won’t require much attention, No Exit is worth your time.

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