Author: Craig Matthews
Sometimes the classics can’t be beaten, and here we have HUSH, a good old fashioned home invasion/slasher flick with a twist! HUSH is the brain child of Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel, as if the writing wasn’t enough Mike also directs while Kate stars as protagonist Maddie. Produced by horror heavyweights Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Sinister) and with a budget of $1 million this promises to be a gripping thriller, though I have to admit seeing it released straight to Netflix is worrying.
We kick off with the usual, a glimpse into the victims normal life. Today’s ‘victim’ Maggie is an author living in seclusion in the woods with her cat and neighbour for company. This is where the aforementioned twist comes in; Maddie is deaf and can only communicate in sign language. Apart from the normal complications life throws us( work and ex-partners) everything is going ok. This is a good introduction; it sets the scene well and doesn’t bog us down with too much back story.
Things kick into high gear with the introduction of the creepy, smiling antagonist played by John Gallagher Jr. He announces his presence by brutally murdering her neighbour, seemingly right in front of Maddie. Upon realising she can’t hear him, the masked maniac decides she will be his next victim. Without giving too much of the plot away, a deadly game of cat and mouse follows with our protagonist essentially under siege. I have a few things to comment on here, the first being the direction Mr Flanagan took the smiling psycho killer. I’m not going to spoil it, and I didn’t like it at first, but I have to admit as the film goes on it’s a brilliant part of character development. He took a risk there and it paid off.
My second comment is on the first rate camera work in this film. Shot in near total darkness (page one of the masked maniacs hand book – kill the power) you truly are sucked in to Maddie’s silent world, it sits you right on the edge of your seat as our protagonist tries to fortify her positions and fight off her assailant. The majority of the film is shot in her house, with close up shots of Maddie, point of view perspectives and a near total lack of dialogue and loud course sound effects. This film proves that you don’t need gore and jump scares to be scary.
As the film goes on and Maddie finds herself in progressively worse situations, I do have to question the plot a bit. She manages to escape her siege more than a few times, only to be chased back again. Once or twice would be ok, but any more and you really are starting to play cat and mouse. This is only a minor problem and doesn’t spoil the overall experience. The ending also springs to mind here, overall it was brilliant with moments of pure suspense, but in other places it felt almost drawn out. As if the director had tried a little too hard to create a tense and nail biting ending. But like my other complaint, it doesn’t really spoil the overall experience and it was a very satisfying end to the story.
Overall HUSH is a great new take on a well-established horror genre; Mike Flanagan uses Maddie’s deafness to deliver the terrifying experience of a home invasion in a new way. He took some risks and they really paid off, only treading near the genre’s usual clichés a few times. Kates performance is absolutely fantastic and it’s fair to say that she is no ‘Damsel In Distress’ and she shows that a strong woman is something to be feared! True there are some parts that didn’t quite sit right, but they are small enough not to ruin the film. If you’re looking for a good scare, that doesn’t rely on excessive gore and jump scares, this is for you.