How Hulu’s Thriller ‘No Exit’ Was Made

Fans of thrillers have Hulu’s No Exit to look forward to this weekend. Based on Taylor Adams‘ best-selling novel, the film sees Havana Rose Liu‘s Darby holed up in a rest stop with 4 strangers during a snowstorm. Everything seems fine until Darby discovers a kidnapped child tied up in one of the cars. Murphy’s Multiverse was invited to the film’s press junket which included director Damien Power and its cast.

Liu was asked about her electrifying turn as Darby, a recovering addict whose demons always get the best of her. Liu, a newcomer to the industry, gave a very humbling answer.

With Darby, I barely even had time to think. It just felt like it was flowing right from me.  I find her to be gritty, bold, charming, tortured, and also very vulnerable in a way that I don’t think we always see heroic characters holding onto. And I think for me, it was just the best, most sort of complex, nuanced character I could have  asked to play, given that so many of her faults really are her strengths and vice versa. 

Havana Rose Liu

No Exit‘s tension stems from the premise’s wildly claustrophobic setting. The film first takes the shape of traditional whodunits but soon morphs into something crazier. Director Damien Power addressed some of the themes that come with a film like No Exit.

This is not a film about a character or characters who go on a journey and grow and change. It’s really a film about how true character is revealed under pressure. And that applies to every single character in that room. The film the film asks the audience, you know, the audience is trying to work out who is the kidnapper. So, Darby’s trying to ask, “Who are you?” and the film asks that  question of the characters all the time. Who are you when  this happens? Who are you now? Who are you when the  pressure’s really on?

As to why Power agreed to adapt the novel into live-action, the answer was clear cut upon reading Taylor Adams‘ work.

I think the script that I read was already quite faithful to the novel. There are a few elements that I thought we could take from the novel though. I mean, as a novel, it had a great  character-driven plot, it’s got high stakes, it’s got these surprising twists and turns, this incredible, hostile setting, and, you know, this great ticking clock with the girl in the van. And all that was already in the script that I read. I can see why people read [the novel] and thought this would make a great movie. So did  I. 

Damien Power

One of No Exit‘s secret weapons is Mila Harris, who plays the kidnapped child. We got to ask the cast what it was like working with her and they had nothing but nice things to say. Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Danny Ramirez described Harris as a “powerhouse.”

She’s like one of the best child  actresses that I’ve ever worked with. Honestly, knocked it out of the park every single time.

Danny Ramirez

Even the great Dennis Haysbert chimed on Harris’ scene-stealing performance. With such a dark and morbid premise, Haysbert was worried the film would have a traumatizing effect on a young girl but Harris alleviated those worries.

I wondered if she was traumatized at  all, you know? And she wasn’t. She just wasn’t. And unless she’s an even better actress than I think she just handled it just right off her shoulders. She’s fine. She was marvelous.

Dennis Haysbert

The production design of No Exit’s outdoor set is one of the better aspects of the film. Much of the film’s most intense moments take place in the freezing snowy outdoors and the team nailed making that location look convincingly real. According to Power:

There was no real snow. We filmed the entire film in a studio in Auckland in New Zealand in summer. So we had a lot of fake snow, which was not without its own hazards, as Havana can tell you. She got totally hosed by a snow tornado on day one which was pretty painful. So  we had-we had some fake snow on set and then we added a lot of digital snow. I think every time you’re looking at  some snow, there’s a digital element in there  somewhere.

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