In No Exit, Darby finds herself stranded with strangers at an isolated highway rest stop during a blizzard. Then she discovers a kidnapped child tied up in a car belonging to someone inside. But which of these strangers can Darby trust to help, and who among them is the kidnapper?

No Exit Review

We meet Darby (Havana Rose Liu) in rehab – a place she’s been before, and seems to believe she inevitably will be again. Her drug problem has led to her estrangement from her family. But when Darby gets a call that her mother has been hospitalized, she breaks out of the facility, steals a car, and heads towards Salt Lake City.

But no matter her determination, the weather has other plans. When a blizzard closes the roads, Darby is forced to take refuge in a rest stop to wait out the storm. There she meets a number of other stranded travelers: couple Sandi (Dale Dickey) and Ed (Dennis Haysbert), nice guy Ash (Danny Ramirez), and loner Lars (David Rysdahl).

While trying in vain to get enough of a cell signal outside to call her sister, Darby accidentally discovers someone else stranded with them: a little girl, tied up in the back of a van. A van that belongs to one of the four strangers inside.

But how can Darby sus out the kidnapper and save the girl when she doesn’t know who to trust and can’t call for help?

A serious thrill ride

Now, I won’t go too deep into the details of No Exit, because the twists and turns deserve to be witnessed firsthand. This is definitely the kind of movie you don’t want to spoil ahead of time!

That said, I need to praise the overall arc and storytelling of No Exit. This movie is what a good thriller should be. From the beginning, the stakes seem impossibly high, and still somehow the film manages to escalate them consistently throughout. It brilliantly captures the claustrophobia and paranoia of the space. Despite the intensity of the story, it stays grounded in a truly terrifying way. It’s all too easy to imagine yourself in Darby’s shoes, pulling over due to bad weather only to find yourself caught up in something much worse. 

No Exit

This element of reality trickles into every part of the movie. Not being able to get cell service to call for help during a crucial moment is kind of a movie cliche by this point. But stranded in the mountains, in a snowstorm, in the middle of nowhere? It actually makes sense that Darby can’t call for help. Haven’t we all found ourselves in a situation like that?

Though this isn’t at all a murder mystery whodunit, No Exit reminded me quite a bit of Agatha Christie stories. It has a similar way of exploring its characters, playing with the audience’s assumptions and expectations in a way that maintains tension and paranoia throughout the film. You think you know what’s happening here, but you actually only know what the movie wants you to think.

An incredible introduction to Havana Rose Liu

In her first feature film role, Havana Rose Liu shines as Darby. 

No Exit is an intense film. Not just in terms of action and violence and thrills, but also emotionally. While dealing with being stranded with a kidnapper, Darby is also dealing with heavy personal baggage – her drug problem, ditching rehab, her mother’s poor health, her sister’s dismissal. Frankly, in another movie, these problems would already be enough conflict for our main character. But in a film with stakes as high as No Exit, these details just simmer in the background – in a good way.

Havana Rose Liu as Darby in No Exit

Truly, I think there’s no easier character to get behind than “person having an absolute shit go at life, even though they’re trying really hard to do good.” That’s Darby in a nutshell; the punches keep coming, and she keeps getting back up and rallying for the next round anyways.

Liu balances Darby’s conflict and nuance perfectly. Though the movie is somewhat ensemble in nature, the story really rests on Darby’s shoulders. Liu proves more than up to the challenge, demonstrating great emotional range and depth and an undeniable believability on screen. If Hollywood is paying attention (and they should be), this will be just the first of many impressive lead roles for Liu.

Go stream No Exit now

No Exit is a well-crafted thriller, carefully balancing high emotional stakes with constantly escalating thrills and enough twists and turns to keep you highly entertained from start to finish. The cast gives solid performances, helping ground you in the story and lending a terrifying realism to every action. It’s well worth a watch for any thriller fan.

No Exit begins streaming on Hulu February 25.