Review by Camden Ferrell
E.B. Hughes’s newest film, Exit 0, premiered at the 2019 Chain NYC Film Festival where it won Best Director of a Narrative Feature and Best Actor. His newest movie has enough thrills and mystery to make up for its occasional lulls and odd pacing.
In this movie, a man and woman embark on a road trip to save their relationship. On this trip, they stay at an inn where the man discovers a tape of a horrifying murder years before. Chaos and fear suddenly ensue, and their trip becomes increasingly dark. This is a really cool premise that thrives off of its mystery and its stakes.
The script, also penned by Hughes, is really solid throughout, but it does feel a little forced at times. However, it is fairly apt at generating tension in moments of silence. The film mostly thrives when the dialogue is minimal. While some of the dialogue is a bit misguided, a lot of the banter between the two main actors is fairly entertaining.
The highlight of this movie is its acting. Gabe Fazio delivers an incredible performance as Billy. He is a great conversational actor, but he also excels in the movie’s most extreme moments of paranoia and anxiety. It’s impressive, and it’s probably the most memorable aspect of the film. Augie Duke does a decent job at playing Lisa. She has great chemistry with Fazio but can also find herself being overshadowed by him.
The movie is pretty good at establishing its eerie atmosphere and unsettling ambiance. Granted, this takes a while to hit its stride in the film, but when it’s good, it’s really well-done. The soundscape is great and the production design gives off the energy you’d expect from a creepy hotel movie. Hughes has a distinct vision and he pulls it of very well for the most part.
The movie also doesn’t try and cheapen its suspense with loud noises or jump scares. Much like a Hitchcock film, it finds real terror in anticipation and mystery. While the execution of this style will occasionally be amiss, it’s still refreshing to see, and it’s fairly effective in context of the film.
While this movie is nothing revolutionary or incredibly memorable, it’s still fairly fun for its condensed runtime. It doesn’t overstay its welcome as a whole, and it’s really enjoyable to watch. Again, a lot of this is thanks to its mystery and portrayal of anxiety and paranoia, but it’s also just a well-made film with a lot of promising talent behind the camera.
Exit 0 is a simple yet effective exercise in suspense. It promises great things for Hughes as a writer but mostly as a director. It features a great performance from Gabe Fazio, and it’s worth checking out.
Exit 0 is available on VOD March 10.
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