I’m going to admit something: I am not a fan of horror movies. Not because I’m some high falutin cinema snob…well partially that’s why, but the real reason is simple: I’m a wimp. I get squeamish with the slasher and torture porn films. I will lose sleep for a week after watching a creepy ghost story. You are reading the blog of someone who avoids openings in ceilings to this day because of Alien.
So you can imagine my skepticism when a friend recommended Hush. I watched this film with the belief that I was going to get a typical, dumb slasher flick. I was pleasantly surprised when I got a tense and well told thriller.
Hush follows Maddie (Katie Siegel, who also co-wrote the film), a reclusive author who went deaf as a teenager, as she fights a killer (John Gallagher, Jr.) in a secluded cabin of the woods. This film has a simple premise and I loved how well it was executed. Because Maddie is deaf and alone, the film relies on silence and visual storytelling, giving the film an eerie feel as it moves along. Maddie’s isolation seems to grow as she is cut off from the outside world.
Maddie is very likable and director Mike Flanagan tells us all we need to know in those opening moments. She is a writer, so that automatically makes her super awesome already (Writers unite!). But we also see Maddie’s relationship with her sister and neighbors, establishing that kind of “girl next door” type that we’re used to in this type of film.
That said, we also see that Maddie is intelligent…something not so typical in a “slasher” films. We get a glimpse of Maddie’s storytelling process, running different scenarios for her mystery novel in her head, which becomes important later. There is rarely a moment where I thought “Don’t do that, that’s stupid!” whenever Maddie tried something.
The Killer, who goes unnamed (And is simply credited as “Man” on IMDB), makes a hell of a first impression when he first enters. Almost immediately, he is an intimidating threat. Throughout the film, we see that he is completely psychotic and more importantly smart, which makes him much more frightening.
He is no Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers (A hulking monster), but his menace originates from his mind. He is quick to cut off most of Maddie’s attempts to escape not because he is a supernatural monster, but because he has thought of that move as well.
And for me, that’s the best reason to watch this film. It’s more of a cat and mouse thriller than a typical slasher film. And while some horror film’s endings are easy to figure out, this one’s conclusion is in doubt. I honestly had no idea who would “win” in the end, and that was refreshing.
There is gore, but it’s used at the right moments and rarely, if ever, feels gratuitous. The soundtrack is sparse, but swells at the right times. And the film makes the most of its 81 minute run time. Flanagan is excellent at silent story telling, something I wish there was more of in film today, and I look forward to whatever he has up his sleeve next.
While the film isn’t ground breaking, I loved it because it took a simple premise and told it well.
Score: 8 out of 10