Monday, April 18, 2022

Hell Is Other People (& a Cold Rest Stop)

It's 2022, which means most of our pop culture advertisements come by way of the internet. And yet, today's film, airing exclusively on Hulu, showed up as a trailer...on television. 

Seriously, I just want to acknowledge how strange it is to see an advertisement for one medium on a competing one. It's like when you watch a DVD that opens with an advertisement for the power of Blu Rays (I know, I know: who watches DVDs anymore, you kids scoff).

We're living in strange, strange times.

Quick Plot: Darby is in rehab (again) when she gets a call that her mother is in the hospital with a life-threatening aneurysm. She wastes no time sneaking out, but a heavy blizzard derails her travels and lands her in a visitor's center-turned-makeshift shelter with a batch of four other strangers...including one who has a young woman tied up in his or her van.

What follows is a sort of Hitchcock-lite thriller as tensions rise and cell phone bars fall. There are a few decent reveals and surprises along the 90-minute way so I'll pause on any more story details. We're not really talking about rug pull twists, but director Damien Power is keen to create tension by way of what our lead (and by extension, audience) doesn't know. 

It works well enough, though never to particularly outstanding effect. I was invested in Darby's plight. I was into the snow-trapped atmosphere and one-building setting. But overall, No Exit never grabbed me the way I'd hoped. 

High Points
There's probably more setup to Darby's past than a more effectively taut thriller would have needed, but actress Havana Rose Liu provides a strong presence and more importantly, Darby's characterization ends up being one of the reasons we actually care about this wild night. Yes, she's a mess, but in the face of danger, she makes the morally right decision to put her life on the line for a stranger. She proves herself an exceptional person and it means we as the audience have no choice but to root for her

Low Points
It should be a prosecutable crime to put Dale Dickey in your film and not let her do anything cool

Lessons Learned
Play the man, not the hand

Never trust a weird little white guy with a chip on his shoulder

Reno is all the action of Vegas with half the noise

No Exit is what I like to call a "folding laundry movie." Mind you, I don't actually FOLD laundry, but I do occasionally have to sit down and match-make widowed socks, and this would be the kind of film that would serve as a perfectly adequate backdrop. It's...fine. Entertaining but not quite sharp enough to fully hold your attention. Pair it with a mindless activity and bam! You've got yourself a productive Sunday morning. 


  1. Ok, a little off topic here but I've never heard the term "folding laundry movie," and I love it. One of my problems with movie watching is that I MUST eat snacks while watching, and I've been struggling to break that habit. So next time I'm watching something I'm not totally riveted by, I'll consider throwing in a mindless stationary chore like folding laundry. Brilliant!

    And while we're talking laundry, "widowed socks" -- beautiful term, I'll have to add that to my vocabularly. Thanks, deadlydollshouse!

    1. Folding laundry, matchmaking widowed socks, organizing medication for the week, laying out the grocery list, shelling nuts...any activity that doesn't demand BOTH eyeballs qualifies!