No Exit

Starring: Havana Rose Liu, Dennis Haysbert, Dale Dickey, Danny Ramirez, Mila Harris, and David Rhysdal.

Directed By Damien Power.

Where I Watched it: Hulu

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

The Plot: A young woman (Liu) on her way to see her mother in a hospital gets trapped in a snowstorm and finds herself holding out at a visitors center with four other individuals. Except, someone in the room also has a kidnapped girl tied up in the back of their van. Who is it? And with the roads shut down, no phones, and NO EXIT, can anyone survive?

What Doesn’t Work: Switching it up a bit. Sometimes films with really basic plots, that I’m sure were really easy to shoot over the pandemic, end up adding extra crap we don’t need. This film starts out by introducing us to our protagonist who is in some kind of forced rehab facility when she receives the news about her mother, and we spend all this time building her up as an addict on the edge, willing to break out of this facility and hit the road to see her mom that doesn’t want to see her, and it has no relevance to the plot whatsoever.

Her story, which easily takes up the first 10-15 minutes of the film is really just padding to help a film that has a great amount of potential break the 90 minute mark. Mass, which is a terrific fil once the four leads get into the room, did the same thing by padding the film with unnecessary build up and exposition that does nothing for the character or plot.

In some ways, this film reminded me of Identity, where that gang was trapped at the hotel, being picked off one by one, and with this film, she enters into an environment with only four possibilities. I almost think more characters could have extended the “whodunit” portion of the film a bit longer, which would have strengthened the movie.

What makes the movie interesting is who kidnapped the girl, and how are they going to survive once this comes to light? More people, even only one more person, would have given her another person to have to get to know and suspect, and would have been a much stronger use of the time. Instead, due to lack of choices, she zeroes in on the culprit pretty fast (though I do appreciate the twist that followed), because her choices were so limited.

I think there’s a stronger version of this film where more people are in the visitors center. I also don’t quite understand why the visitors center is abandoned, but that’s another story for another day I suppose. It’s just open 24/7 for any random people to come in and do whatever they want I suppose.

What Works: It’s still a nail biter. The first 15 minutes are useless, and she does uncover the truth rather quickly, but the game of cat and mouse that it turns into, as no one can leave, and desperation sets in really works and carries this 90 minute film. Of course, with a runtime this short, and a very promising plot, it’s hard to not keep this film moving at an electric pace. There are definitely even moments where you believe that it might not work out for our protagonist or the kidnapped child, and the director could take a bold choice. It’s very believable, at more than one point.

Damien Power seems to be relatively new to this scene, and he shows a ton of promise here. I’d definitely give him more money to do more things along this same line. He’s obviously a talent worth keeping around.

The Blind Perspective: This had terrific audio description that really kept me on the edge of my seat, and I could visualize what was happening, and it kept the intensity up. Very good work here.

Final Thoughts: It’s not perfect, but it shows a lot of promise for the director and even the cast. The writing, could have used another set of eyes. The first fifteen minutes are a waste of time, and we could have used a bit more slow burn on the reveal, possibly even an additional character to keep it more interesting. But I was very much hooked.

Final Grade: B+

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