Plot twists, ambiance, and impressive acting, particularly from lead Havana Rose Liu, make this film a suspenseful watch, though the latter act devolves into mostly gory violence.
There's a scene early in No Exit when Darby has discovered the tied-up child in the back of a van and doesn't yet know who the car belongs to. The group of stranded travelers starts a card game of BS, and the camera closes in on the characters' eyes as the moment becomes tenser. Who is lying? Who can Darby trust?
This is where the film is at its strongest. Once the owner of the van is revealed, the action turns increasingly violent (expect a lot of blood) with a couple of surprise twists.
Liu plays pain masterfully, and her frightened stares and general discomfort, starting from the moment she escapes rehab and pockets a white substance for later, are haunting. She proves herself stronger and more resilient than anyone seems to expect from her.
The ensemble cast was well selected and though we're given some tantalizing hints about their lives, they deserved even more backstory. Dennis Haysbert brings gravitas to every role.
The setting adds to the suspense -- the visitor's center on a mountain pass socked in during a nighttime snowstorm creates an atmosphere of claustrophobia, if not dread. There's also some memorable cinematography that makes evocative use of the snowy environment, such as a lonely car shot from above, headlights beaming ahead, or falling flakes flashing red, white, and blue in the lights of a police car.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.