Directed by: Mike Flanagan.
Written by: Mike Flanagan & Kate Siegel.
Starring: Kate Siegel (Maddie), John Gallagher Jr. (Man), Michael Trucco (John), Samantha Sloyan (Sarah), Emma Graves (Max).
No one is going to claim that Mike Flanagan and Katie Siegel’s Hush is an overly ambitious horror movie. It isn’t. It is a typical home invasion thriller, where Siegel’s Maddie, is trapped in her large house, in the middle of nowhere (in a forest) as a mad man (John Gallagher Jr.) torments her from outside the home. We all know, at some point, either he’s going to get inside that house, or she’s going to go outside, and the two will have a conflict. We also know who is likely to survive. The one original touch to the movie is that Maddie is deaf and mute – so it’s kind of a play on Wait Until Dark, where Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman in a similar situation. Original, Hush is not. Yet, dammit all, if this film doesn’t work. It’s only 80 minutes, and that time zooms by. Flanagan proved, like he did in his last film, Oculus, that he knows how to direct a horror film, knows how to play with the audience, pull exactly the right strings at the right moments, and ratchet up the tension until it is unbearable. Even though I don’t think Flanagan has made a great horror film yet, based on these two films, it’s only a matter of time before he does.
Hush premiered at SXSW and then almost immediately ended up on Netflix. That’s probably a good choice for a movie like Hush – which even if it had gone to theaters, would have found most of its audience on Netflix – where it is a perfect film to play late one night, when you’re bored - I started it around 1 a.m. – and it delivered precisely what I was looking for at that time of night. Hush is the type of horror film that works best if you don’t know too much about the plot – or the twists – so I won’t spoil anything below.
What I will say is that the two lead performances in the film are very good. Siegel wrote the movie with Flanagan (her husband), and she created a good role for herself in Maddie – a woman has to find unknown resolve to fight for her life. Her attacker thinks her disability makes her an easy target – and he’s wrong. For his part, Gallagher, is menacing as the unnamed Man who delights in tormenting her. He has been quite prolific in the past couple of years, and he’s quietly building a solid resume – the nice guys on The Newsroom and in Short Term 12, the seemingly nice guys who may be a creep in The Heart Machine and 10 Cloverfield Lane, etc. He is less convincing as an out and out creep here then in the past, but he has his moments.
There really isn’t much more to say about Hush without giving away the whole game. You shouldn’t watch Hush expecting a new horror masterpiece – even in terms of home invasion films, it doesn’t inspire the pure, visceral terror of something like The Strangers (2008) – a film I remember not many people other than me liking at the time, but which has grown in esteem in the years since. Hush is a film that moves like clockwork – it’s exactly what you expect it to be – and as long as you know that going in, than Hush delivers what it promises.