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Disney+ Review: No Exit

February 25, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Taylor Adams, No Exit is a surprisingly effective little thriller that contains itself almost entirely to a single location, building a chilling mystery around a young addict, a kidnapped girl, and a group of potential suspects, all trapped together in an isolated setting.

The film opens with our protagonist, Darby Thorne (Havana Rose Liu, delivering a promising breakout performance), at a treatment centre for drug addiction in the mountains. When she gets a call that her mother is in the hospital in Utah, she flees the centre to go visit her, only to get caught in a raging blizzard.

Unable to drive any further in the weather, Darby ends up stuck at a remote highway service centre in the Colorado Rockies with four strangers; smooth-talking Ash (Danny Ramirez), the fidgety Lars (David Rysdahl), former marine Ed (Dennis Haysbert) and his wife Sandi (Dale Dickey).

But wait, there’s more; Darby ventures into the parking lot and discovers a young girl (Mila Harris) tied up in the back of a van that belongs to one of the people inside. Where did the girl come from, who does the vehicle belong to, and where are they taking her? Does she stay silent, or speak up and potentially risk her own life? Furthermore, who amongst the four strangers can she trust to ask for help? This is an intriguing setup, and what the film does effectively is establish a series of lose-lose scenarios, ratcheting up tension as we wait to see how the characters are going to get out of them.

Directed by Damien Power, from an adapted screenplay by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, No Exit (a 20th Century Studios film that was originally supposed to open in theatres but is now being released on Disney+ in Canada and on Hulu in the U.S.) is a fast-moving, economical thriller that packs a number of twists and turns into its brisk 95 minute running time. The film knows just how much to reveal at any given moment to keep us in suspense, such as the state on the van’s license plate, or a tense card game that doubles as a way for Darby to suss out vital information.

We are aware of some plot contrivances, and that the film is essentially playing us like a fiddle. There is a flashback that I don’t think was really needed, and the final scene lets some of the air out of the balloon, when it might have left more of an impact if it ended a few beats earlier. But No Exit still succeeds at being an intense, claustrophobic, and at times surprisingly nasty little thriller (there is some stuff with a nail gun that made me cringe), offering a good bit of suspense on a cold winter’s night. It keeps us on the edge of our seats through several plot twists and moments of genuine tension, and perhaps more impressively gets the job done in only an hour and a half.

No Exit is now available to stream exclusively on Disney+ in Canada.

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