Genre: Thriller, Horror
Director: Mike Flanagan
Running Time: 81 Minutes
“You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defense, offense, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging leaping from their mouths. Silence? No.”
― Alison McGhee,
Living in a moderately secluded cabin home, author, Maddie Young (Kate Siegel), is trying to figure out an appropriate ending to her latest book. Her neighbours are relatively close by but that doesn’t matter when she is being hunted, for sport, by a psychopath with a crossbow. She cannot hear him or even scream for help. The only thing she can do is try to survive.
Performances & Special Effects
This was a small cast, with the primary focus on Kate Siegel and John Gallagher Jr. Both gave fantastic performances. Siegel’s expressive face and her emotive eyes were essential for playing a character who is both deaf and mute. Her portrayal of the character quickly ingratiates her to the audience and you find yourself liking her and hoping that she lives through this ordeal.
For the first time in a long time, I found myself NOT rooting for the killer. Gallagher was unassuming in stature and devoid of emotion, initially. This was perfect for the character, who the audience quickly realises is doing this for the fun of it. He has no motive, there is no elaborate plot behind his actions. This is why the mask coming off so early isn’t a big deal. He is killing people, hunting them, because he can. He’s smart when thinking on the fly and knows how to play the waiting game.
The special effects were few but I enjoyed them. This is not a particularly gory film but there are moments of blood being spilled and bone being broken. The make-up and prosthetics were believable and, in that way, effective. A note must also be made to the sound engineering of this film. There was little to no music or sound effects. This was essential for building the tension and keeping the viewer on edge.
Much like Oculus, the plot of this Flanagan film is not difficult to figure out or navigate. It’s a home invasion film and thus has three possible outcomes: 1. The protagonist dies, 2. the antagonist dies, or 3. they both die. It’s a matter of seeing how the film gets to it’s final conclusions. It may not seem sophisticated and the deaf/mute aspect may seem gimmicky but this movie genuinely made me tense while watching it. Due to the heroine’s inability to hear, I found myself becoming hyper aware of both my physical surroundings and the noiselessness within the film. What was really terrifying to think about was not her inability to hear him but rather her inability to hear herself. Trying to be silent and to move quietly is made exceedingly difficult if you don’t know how much noise you are making.
This is not an action film, and if you go into it expecting break-neck pace and blood thirsty gore, you will be sorely disappointed. The pace is rather even and in this way is reinforces the feeling of this being a game of cat-and-mouse. The killer is toying with her. He knows that if he really wants to, he can get to her at any time. She knows this but chooses to fight anyway. I found myself questioning my ability to adequately defend myself if put into this situation, with all my senses and faculties available to me. And I think that this is what the movie was really wanting people to do. To consider how most of us would have given up or been in shock to react but Maddie decides that she wants to live and uses her apparent weakness as her greatest strength.
Yes, there are moments where she makes stupid decisions or doesn’t use something that would prove immediately useful but you need to remember that this is movie making. If she figured her shit out in the first 20 minutes, there would be no movie. I found most of decision making to be credible, albeit ill-conceived at times. Who can honestly say that they could do any better in the same situation? We can all talk big but when it comes down to it, either you have the mettle or you don’t. Let’s hope we never have to find out.
If you really want to, you can find any number of plot-holes with this movie but I found it fun to watch in the dark with some friends. I would definitely recommend this as a group movie night film, but I imagine it would be even more effective if you watch it home alone, in the dark.
My rating: 4/5
Watch Hush on Netflix.
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