The cat and mouse game has been a staple in thriller movies for years. Unfortunately, if you do not care about the mouse or even the cat you are left wondering why you even stayed to watch these two battle it out. No Exit is another example of an intriguing premise let down by painfully dull characters, and enough plot holes to fill the Nile (I think I made this joke already). Another victim of the Disney/20th Century Fox merger this has found its way to being dumped onto Hulu during a time when original films have a lot to prove, making this mess all the more detrimental. Directed by Damien Power and adapted from a novel by Taylor Adams, the entire thing plays out like an outdated discount DVD you dig out of a bin. While it may appear to have a few tricks up its sleeve this blizzard mystery just leaves you standing in the cold.
Darby (Havana Rose Liu) needs to get out, however much like the film’s title there is no exit for her. A drug addict sentenced to rehab, Darby clearly does not feel the desire to get clean. When she gets a phone call informing her that her mother is dying in the hospital, she escapes her rehab facility, tries to drive through a snow storm only to find herself trapped again this time at a local rest area with four other strangers. Rose Liu may be an exciting up and coming talent but Darby’s depth of character doesn’t go beyond estranged drug addict daughter. This same thinness follows the rest of the strangers Darby encounters. They include nice guy Ash (Danny Ramirez), creeper Lars (David Rysdahl), marine man Ed (Dennis Hasbert) and his wife Sandi (Dale Dickey). At some point there needs to be a fine or penalty for casting the great Dale Dicky and completely wasting her talents. While the rest of the cast barely lives up to an already lackluster script it is Dickey who is given the most unique role, unfortunately the screenwriters never know what to do with her.
Much like something out of an Agatha Christie novel or Hitchcock film, it becomes apparently clear that something is off and when Darby discovers a kidnapped child in the back of van it can only mean one thing; one of these people are not who they say they are. This element of whodunnit doesn’t last long. Every time the film has a moment that could surprise or create amusing characters, a boring twist that can be seen a mile away is thrown in to attempt shock. To make matters worse these “big” reveals are based on some truly offensive stereotypes involving foster children and those with drug addictions. This is a film whose dialogue is followed less by eye rolling and more outright shaking of the head wishing you were watching anything else. Being trapped with a possible kidnapper or murderer may be terrifying, but being trapped again with this movie is a thought that will forever haunt my dreams.
NO EXIT is currently on HULU