Australian director Damien Power follows up his acclaimed survival-thriller Killing Ground with another nail-biter in the Hulu drama No Exit. In this bleak and nearly inscrutable mystery, Power puts us in the shoes of an addict named Darby (Havana Rose Liu), as she pulls off the road to a dark and unexpected place.
The rest stop is a strange one indeed, located in a remote, barren but oddly peaceful landscape, and promises respite from a mountain blizzard. For folks who have been driving these sleety roads, it seems the only place to go, with other travelers huddled in a wooded cabin. But something is not right… Darby, who has stolen a car to visit her dying mother in Sacramento, isn’t the only criminal in sight–someone has a little girl tied up in the back of their van, and she’s freezing.
Written by Andrew Barner and Gabriel Ferrari, who previously collaborated on the recent Ant Man movie, No Exit is not an easy film to digest. It is incredibly bleak, both in content and color palette. The film is awash in black, white, gray and blue (every time the wind howls, you feel it), and the emotional palette is similarly cold. The film owes a great deal of its atmosphere to The Hateful Eight, another snowy chamber piece about a kidnapped woman, only this time we aren’t sure who’s kidnapping whom.
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Darby isn’t sure who to suspect. Nurse Sandi (Dale Dickey) and her husband Ed (Dennis Haysbety) are mostly nice, if prone to bicker over Ed’s gambling problem. The twitchy, tumultuous Lars (David Rysdahl) seems an obvious suspect, but another solo traveler, Ash (Danny Ramirez), seems a little too charming not to be up to something. And what’s up with Ed? I mean, the guy looks like he could beat Mike Tyson in a fight.
No Exit keeps us on our toes with an arsenal of twists, turns, rug-pulls and back-stabs, not to mention one of the most violent finales you’ll see in a movie all year. Sure, there are enough wacky twists to fill your grandma’s favorite airport novel, but this is an airport novel that never veers into airplane mode. There is always something fresh, new, dark and perverse being thrown at the screen. It’s not always pretty, but it’s never less than exciting. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can check it out on Hulu now!