Sometimes, less is more.
Hush is a 2016 home-invasion horror film directed by Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, Oculus) and stars Kate Siegel and John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Belko Experiment).
Siegel’s character, Maddie, is a deaf author who developed her condition after contracting bacterial meningitis as a teenager. Instead of living in a big city due to her acclaim, she lives isolated out in the woods with her cat.
After her neighbor visits her to have a discussion about her career and love life, Maddie continues looking over her multiple drafts for her next book because she’s struggling with how it ends.
To get it out of the way, I love the connection between this and the third act in the film.
Due to Maddie’s condition, there are certain assets and advantages she has against Gallagher’s character, who is the killer in this film.
Instead of listening for this man’s footsteps, she can feel vibrations coming from the floor if a person is walking or she can sense the vibration of sound. Early in the film, she leaves food in the oven that burns and her fire alarm is blasting so that she can sense the vibration that her alarm is sounding off.
The best thing going for this film is the atmosphere. With the film taking place in the woods, it’s dead quiet and you can clearly hear the movements of both Maddie and the man when they move about the property.
I’m already horrified by the panning in horror films and it amps up when the camera goes to the doors and windows of her house and it’s pitch black outside. I rarely jump when I get scared. It only happened once when I first saw John Carpenter’s The Fog, but it did happen when this movie last night. There’s a scene where we are looking at writing on the wall and trying to figure out what it says. Out of nowhere, the man jumps into frame in a high-quality scare. No over-bloated sound cue. Just good deception to get us away from thinking he was going to show up in that shot.
The performances are exceptional. Siegel and Gallagher are two actors with a high level of charisma and their chemistry is palpable.
I love Gallagher in The Belko Experiment and 10 Cloverfield Lane, so I’m not surprised when he portrays this seemingly ruthless, hostile human being that just enjoys killing, which leads me into my biggest flaws with this movie.
Visually, this is a stunning movie and the performances are wonderful, but behind almost every major character in a film, there is a motive for their actions. There is no motive for Gallagher’s character.
He randomly shows up and murders Maddie’s neighbor and is now stalking her and doing what I can to kill her with a crossbow. We never know what his intentions are and it’s never hinted at. We think that this is some scorned lover of Maddie’s, but there is no connection between the two in the slightest.
Sure, it can be terrifying when someone commits heinous acts without reason, but even a fictional character like Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th franchise has a motive for his actions.
Another thing this movie missed was using the perspective of Maddie. There are sprinkles where we get no sound like we are watching this movie from her point of view, but it doesn’t happen enough. It’s a huge missed opportunity and I wish it would’ve been explored more.
Do these shortcomings ruin the film though? Not in the slightest.
This is a fantastic film. Flanagan knows exactly how to set the mood for a horror film. He did a few years after this film with Doctor Sleep and the performances from Siegel and Gallagher are phenomenal.
If you haven’t seen Hush yet, it is available on Netflix.
13 down, 18 to go.