Review by Sean Boelman
The new Hulu thriller No Exit may not be based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s classic play of the same name, but it does share in common the fact that the characters are quite hellish. The type of movie that gave studio genre pictures a bad name, this is preposterous and borderline insensitive.
The film follows a young woman who is stranded with a group of strangers in an isolated outpost during a blizzard as she discovers a kidnapped child in the car of one of the people inside. Based on a novel by Taylor Adams, the premise isn’t bad, but the way in which it is executed is terribly frustrating.
One of the worst things about the movie is that it is extremely dull. For much of the first hour, it’s not much more than a bunch of people talking while trapped in a room together, with something sinister happening in the background. While the final act of the film is much more exciting, it’s too late by then.
There is also the fact that the movie makes some decisions that are in bafflingly bad taste. The film uses addiction as a plot device to put the protagonist into this situation, and then frequently ignores it, up to a third act beat that is pretty ridiculous. It’s almost as if the movie doesn’t care about its characters whatsoever.
It would definitely have helped if the character development in the film wasn’t so absurd. All of the characters in the movie are very archetypal and have little development beyond their shallow backstories. It’s easy enough to make the audience hate the people who are evil and root for the safety of the innocent girl and her allies.
The cast of the film isn’t particularly good either. Dennis Haysbert is the biggest name in the cast, and while he has shown himself to be a very talented actor in the past, this role is just not right for him. There’s no nuance that allows his performance to feel like some of his better character work, and so it instead feels closer to his advertising turns as the Allstate guy.
Damien Power’s direction is lacking, as the entire movie has a gray feel to it. To an extent, it makes sense that everything should feel cold because the film is set during a blizzard, but there’s no reason for everything to feel this muted. And unlike other single-room thrillers, there is no real suspense here.
No Exit is an abhorrent movie that is badly made, and even worse, pretty morally reprehensible. It’s understandable why this film is eschewing a theatrical release in favor of streaming with little fanfare, because it’s a perfect fit to get lost in the sea of content.
No Exit is now streaming on Hulu.
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