Hush has a simple premise, as most slashers do, but it does it on a small budget and is very effective. Maddie, our protagonist in this movie, is living in the secluded forest, to realize her dreams of becoming a writer. But everything is turned into a nightmare, once a masked killer comes knocking at her door. The twist though is that Maddie happens to be deaf and mute, due to a bout of bacterial meningitis and botched corrective surgery.
That did sound a bit rubbish to me. I mean the home invasion horror film has been done over and done, it’s not fascinating anymore. But Hush proves us wrong thankfully. Now knowing how much we all rely on our hearing, I didn’t think this would work that well, but I was pleasantly surprised. Using your smarts and the rest of your senses gets you a long way. One of the beginning and possibly most frightening scenes is our protagonist not hearing her friend being killed right outside her door.
Hush uniquely combines isolation and terror. Rather than making it just a gimmick, they use her lack of hearing to enhance the film – bringing the audience into the horror, when they cut the audio periodically, blanketing us in the silence that Maddie is used to. And using the other sounds of normality and violence to great effectiveness. And because of that, it doesn’t fall to the usual tropes where you scream at the screen telling them not to do that. However, I was perplexed by the insane amount of windows in that cabin, which to be fair did probably enhance the terror of the film, by making it harder for Maddie to hide.
Even the killer is unique in Hush, in that he isn’t some mystery. He does start off with a mask, but as Maddie pleads for mercy, he reveals himself letting you know, that he means business. Even though you do see his face early on, it doesn’t detract from the fear. In fact, it makes you imagine this guy could come to your house. But he just doesn’t want to kill her, it’s a game to him. He wants her to be so terrified that she will beg him to kill her by the end, really driving his sadistic point home.
It is this realism that I think makes Hush so effective. The main protagonist doesn’t somehow learn how to fight at the end. The odds are stacked against her, and many of her attempts to escape and survive are fruitless. There is not a moment wasted in this film albeit one, which is great as many horror writers try to drag it out that it becomes meaningless.
The only scene I did not in Hush, is the fantasy multiple scenario scene, which to be fair to the writers, is mentioned at the beginning of the movie. It seemed a bit over the top and unnecessary. But thankfully it’s easy to forget, with the brilliant showdown scene at the end. And Kate Siegel who co-writes and acts as the main character, I have to give most of the credit to. Though as I have mentioned in other posts, Mike Flanagan is becoming my favourite horror director right now. Siegel displays the character’s emotions well and makes a very likeable character, with nothing other than facial expressions and sign language – which is a very hard thing to get right.
Definitely watch Hush, if you want a refreshing take on an overdone trope.
Hush is available to stream on Netflix.