Hush Review

Posted: November 2, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

hushWritten by Daniel Simpson

In 2014, I was pleasantly surprised by a little horror film called Oculus. What I initially dismissed as just another lame haunting movie turned out to be more clever and inventive than I would have thought. I don’t want to oversell the film as it does have some missteps, but it is pretty good, and I remember wanting to keep an eye on young director Mike Flanagan. Well, the way things are going the man seems posed to be one of the next major horror directors. His direct-to-Netflix horror/thriller Hush was enthusiastically received back in April, his Ouija: Origin of Evil is regarded as being vastly superior to the original Ouija, and Flanagan is currently working on an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Gerald’s Game. Clearly, the man is finding a lot of success and I’m happy for him, but my enthusiasm was tempered somewhat by my own disappointment with Origin of Evil, which seemed to be the kind of clichéd horror movie I expected Oculus to me. Still, the craft on display has remained mostly solid and as such I was more than willing to give the well-reviewed Hush a shot.

Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) is a young deaf woman who lives alone in her isolated home in the woods. Maddie is an author currently struggling with the end of her second novel one evening when inexplicably a masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.) begins to attack her. Maddie is able to keep him outside, but it quickly becomes clear that he can find a way inside if he really needs to and is largely toying with Maddie. What follows is a type of cat and mouse struggle between the two adversaries.

Hush is a very, very straight-forward movie. That plot description above is basically exactly what the movie provides. A simple story is fine, but I do wish the film had provided just a little more substance. Maddie is only given basic character development and there are no major turns in the story. There are a few developments which occur that keep things from growing stale, but these sort of progressions are basic and predictable. Additionally, the villain is never given any sort of backstory or motive beyond just being evil. That last point might seem a positive and the villain a Michael Myers type, but that isn’t really the case. Within the first act the killer removes his mask and starts talking, which seriously dilutes the character’s menace. The end result is a villain who is both underdeveloped and simultaneously lacking in mystery.

What distinguishes the film is most certainly the fact that the protagonist is deaf and mute. That certainly changes the dynamic and Flanagan also plays with this aspect pretty effectively. The scene where the killer first appears making a ton of noise, which is of course unnoticed by Maddie, is a memorable moment and the film gains a lot of tension from the fact that Maddie is hindered in defending herself. Having said that, I do think Flanagan could have done more with this aspect cinematically. One of the best scenes in the movie is a moment from Maddie’s perspective with no sound. It’s easily one of the tensest scenes in the film, both for the shift to a deaf perspective and because it’s harder to pinpoint where the killer is. However this doesn’t happen as often you might expect. All told though, Flanagan’s execution is pretty solid and does a lot to make up for the lack of substance. The film has a strong look, the tone is consistent, and the set-pieces are generally pretty good. It’s satisfying to watch the two characters try and logically work their way through problems and the finale, though predictable based on an early set-up, does work.

Honesty, Hush’s biggest problem might just be that it had the misfortune of coming out the same year as Don’t Breathe. That was also a horror film about a person with a disability having their home invaded, but that film did a lot more to subvert audience expectations, provided a more twisty narrative, and was also executed like gangbusters. I had issues with that film too, but it also offered a lot more. By comparison, Hush feels a lot lesser. Still, for what it is, Hush is a decent little movie. It’s a well-crafted little horror movie and anyone looking for some moderate thrills will be moderately satisfied.

C+

Comments
  1. Excellent review! I usually shy away from horror, but I’m kind of interested to see how the protagonist’s disabilities affect her run-in with the invader.

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