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'No Exit' review: Snowy thriller lacks intrigue or tension

Courtesy of Hulu/20th Century Studios


Set in a remote location on a snowy evening, Damien Power’s “No Exit” looks eerily similar to Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” you know the one where a group of suspicious individuals are waiting for a storm to pass and they each have their own sinister personality quirks and mannerisms. Except “No Exit” lacks the star power and is missing several key ingredients: chief among them an engaging central mystery, snappy dialogue, and a screenplay that doesn’t show all its cards early.

Produced by Disney’s 20th Century Studios and dumped on Hulu with no buzz, “No Exit” would probably work as a 45-minute one act play with all the fluff omitted. The story finds Darby (Havana Rose Liu), a recovering drug addict trying to be with her mother who is suffering from a brain aneurysm. En route to the hospital, after breaking out of her rehab facility, near blizzard conditions force Darby to shack up in a nearby community center where she meets a squad of displaced visitors (Dennis Haybert, Danny Ramierz, Dale Dickey, and David Rhysdahl) passing the time by learning card games (the primary one being “bullshit” which I’d assume was designed to be a tounge-and-cheek reference to the Agatha Christie games about to ensue) and becoming more acquainted.

Soon, Darby makes a shocking discovery: a young girl tied up and gagged in the backseat of a van and immediately realizes the call is coming from inside the house (er, community center). Like several Netflix shows or a book you pick-up off the shelf for a breezy afternoon read, “No Exit” employs every murder-mystery cliche imaginable: Double crossings, red herrings, and a twist one could see coming miles away.

Based on the 2017 novel by Taylor Adams, the initial set-up is moderately intriguing as Darby goes into full detective mode, but the child endangerment plot never sits well (in fact, Darby leaves the child, frozen and alone, in the van and goes back inside). “No Exit” doesn’t give the characters enough umph and once ulterior motives are eventually revealed, it’ll become more divisive. Writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari have some tricks up their sleeve and know how to stir the pot, but “No Exit” can’t unravel itself quick enough to make an impact.

Grade: D

NO EXIT is now streaming on Hulu.


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