No Exit is a simple yet highly effective thriller that does well with the genre.
Published on March 4, 2022
Rating 3.5 /5
A recovering drug addict takes off on her own from her rehab center. En route, a snowstorm hinders her journey and she’s forced to retreat to a truck stop until the storm dies down. However, while staying there, she discovers a girl has been kidnapped and restrained within one of the vehicles. But whose could it be? And who can she trust?
That’s a rather strong premise for an intense thriller and director Damien Power. He finds just the right way to make Darby Thorne the compelling addict in recovery, perfectly played by Havana Rose Liu. She starts off snarky and short-fused but also someone with compassion for those more desperate than herself. It helps that the film starts her off as a recluse who simply can’t be trusted in a rehab center and then transforms her into the most trustworthy of characters.
The suspects at the snowed-in spot include Ash, Lars, and the married couple of Ed and Sandi. Ash, played by Danny Ramirez, is an incredibly pensive man with a short fuse. Lars, played by David Rysdahl, is a quiet yet concerned fellow. Ed, played by Dennis Haysbert, has a friendly nature to him but also tries to maintain a sense of authority. Sandi, played by Dale Dickey, is an old woman with fire in her belly. It could be any of them who kidnapped the girl. Or any two. Or all of them.
I dare not reveal who the true criminal is in this case but I will say there’s a tense and twisty road that leads up to the violent reveal. Darby finds herself hiding away inside the bathroom and cars as she slowly pieces together the messy story that led to this hostage situation. Eventually, there’s a boiling point reached, where things take a shocking turn and get incredibly vicious. I really dug how this intensity bubbles to the point where characters are unexpectedly shot and not just by guns.
The setting is also perfect. Using a snowstorm to keep the characters trapped is a nice touch for making this more of a bottle thriller. The external shots are thrilling for the storm that brews just as fiercely as the drama inside the stop. There are brutal stand-offs where guns are drawn and loud words are exchanged. Everybody delivers a fantastically committed performance, where even the actor Mila Harris does a great job as the kidnapped kid.
Despite the simple premise, the violence isn’t skimped on for such a tale. Consider this a warning if you don’t like watching people pull nails out of their arm or get brutally beaten to a pulp. Once this thriller gets going, it gets incredibly cutthroat, leading to a bloody end where Darby delivers the bloodiest of slaughters for those who wish her dead.
No Exit is a simple yet highly effective thriller that does well with the genre. It stages some mysterious characters, weaves a cunning enough backstory, and makes the thrills both shocking and violent. It’s not going to be a highlight of the genre but it should satisfy that pins-and-needles urge that thriller junkies just can't get enough of.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.