Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Stars: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco
Hush is a refreshingly different take on the home invasion horror sub-genre from Mike Flanagan. It’s not got the most complex storyline you’ll ever come across, but it’s an exhilarating, little psychological thriller of a film nonetheless that features a small, but brilliant cast.
It introduces our main protagonist early doors, just as she’s preparing dinner and Flanagan goes out his way to highlight the fairly isolated nature of Maddie’s new life, living in a small, modern, cabin style house, out in the middle of a unnamed woods. He then does something very clever by completely removing sound to make the viewer aware that she’s deaf.
This is something which is leaned upon several times later in the film to really put us in Maddie’s shoes, and despite being such a simple little thing, it’s really quite effective. The first twenty minutes or so really serve as an introduction to the environment, her disabilities (deaf and mute), a pet cat with a predilection for disappearing when bad stuff is going down and a particularly impressive smoke alarm, which of course, you just know is going to come in use later.
When the villain of the piece finally does arrive on the scene, he does it with a bang, it would be fair to say, shooting Maddie’s new friend Sarah with an arrow and then brutally stabbing her. My initial thoughts during this were, bloody hell thats harsh and more than little disturbing, before thinking to myself, is it really necessary to stab someone that many times? Apparently it is. I digress though, following this disturbing murder, which by the way happens at one of the many sheer glass doors and in front of an oblivious Maddie, our creepy masked assailant, aptly named the ‘man’ because a man he is, changes targets and decides to head inside.
One of the creepier moments in the film happens around this point when he stands behind an unaware Maddie with a knife just before she begins a FaceTime session with another friend. Sneaking out of shot, he grabs her phone, taking various snaps of her and then sends them to the MacBook she’s using, which causes a horrified Maddie to become aware of the masked intruder now mooching around in her house.
What follows is a pretty standard horror premise with the intruder, who by this point has now been locked out the house (and my god is there a lot of doors and windows in this house) and revealed his face, stalking the under siege Maddie, walking round the house again and again like a predator stalking its prey, waiting for the right time to move. He even says as much, tauntingly telling her “Good. Now let’s have some fun” after removing his mask and if this film is anything, then it’s definitely fun.
Sure, it has all the usual horror stereotypes, like when she decides to inexplicably leave the house, hide under the porch and then make an unsuccessful run for it. And if that’s not bad enough, clearly having not learnt her lesson, she goes for a walk out on the roof and along some squeaking guttering, earning an arrow to the leg. Thankfully, this second ill advised trip isn’t completely in vain though, as she manages to snatch the crossbow after performing an arrow avoiding move that Neo would have been proud of and knocking her assailant down.
Things after this point really go up a notch, particularly the gore, after the arrival of an inquisitive John, looking for his now dead wife. The gore isn’t gruesomely bad, but it’s there and it needed to be too I suppose. Without giving much else away, because the final half hour of this film should be enjoyed first hand and not read about. I’ll just go ahead and say that it’s the most satisfied I’ve been to see a character die in a long, long time. That’s shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler.
Kate Siegel is tremendous in this film, she really is. It can’t be easy acting out the part of a deaf and mute person, especially when you’re not afflicted with the disabilities and not having those senses is unfathomable to those blessed with them. Without any real dialogue (she had some in the form an inner voice), most of the emotion and acting had to be done with her facial expression and eyes, and she really did nail it. John Gallagher Jr was equally brilliant as the unnamed ‘man’. I’ll admit I hadn’t really heard of him until I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, another film featuring a small cast and psychological thriller elements, but that’s changed now and I’m glad for it. He manages to pull of a menacing, mentally unstable, sicko vibe, whilst also injecting some intermittent moments of dark humour into the film.
The highlights of which include, acting like a ventriloquist with a corpse to making a witty, humorous reference to the danger of smoking after just snuffing out the ex-smokers life. The other two weren’t really in the film long enough to pass judgement. I’ll give an honourable shout to the cat who turned up at the end like a gangsta and chilled on the porch surveying the aftermath.
I loved what Mike Flanagan did here in taking a heavily used premise and turning it on its head with the deaf element. He got the absolute maximum he could’ve out of the story and actors/actresses, delivering an intense and enjoyable film in doing so. There was a few niggles. Firstly, did Apple sponsor this film or what? Because damn that was the most in your face product placement I think ever witnessed in a film. I’m an Apple fanboy, but still, come on. Secondly, was there any need for that amount of windows and doors in a house that size? Still though, anal niggles aside, I have absolutely no qualms in recommending this film. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.