Saturday, June 25, 2016


Although I love watching horror movies during the ghostly time of fall, particularly near Halloween, I’ll occasionally dive into one out of season when the urge arises, especially if it happens to be listed within the catalogue of the Netflix streaming titles.  It’s very rare when I enjoy a film that I pick out from there, but this time I found something that kept my attention…and that was the movie, Hush.

While the situations in these types of films—the home invasion genre—are sometimes hard to watch, especially when you’re sitting in the dark as one is wont to do when viewing this type of film, they still captivate me.  Films like The Strangers, The Purge, and You’re Next are some of the best that I’ve seen and I primarily love this subgenre of horror movies regardless of how they play out.  As in The Strangers, I enjoy the mystery as to why these nemeses decide to threaten the central characters of the story, never finding out their identities or the reason for their misgivings.  But then again, with You’re Next, it’s just the opposite, as the audience is provided answers to those questions and doesn’t end unresolved.  Both films are equally entertaining, but have different outcomes as the story plays out.

Regardless as how these stories present themselves, we—as people who’ve been in these same situations, sitting alone at home during late hours—can relate to the characters in these types of films.  It does happen in the real world, so to see these circumstances in a movie is not so far-fetched.

Before I jump too much further into the subgenre of these types of movies, let me break down the plot of the film.

Maddie (Kate Siegel), a deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.) appears at her window.

Short and sweet, right?

When first starting this film, it began to wear on me that the star of the movie was never going to speak as we get a barrage of sign language when she has her neighbor, Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), over for dinner.  Though Sarah speaks her dialogue as she signs her words (which I thought was a nice touch to show what a good friend she was to learn signing), it became evident—or so I thought—that this was what we’d be seeing throughout the film…either that or complete silence as the story plays out.  I’d even stopped this film after a few minutes, thinking I wasn’t going to return to it, but the next day I’d thought better of it and decided to give it another chance and I’m glad I did.

Of course, having the interaction between Maddie and Sarah was necessary to establish the main character as being deaf because if the story had started out with seeing her walk around her house, it’d be hard to convey the fact that she was hearing-impaired.  Plus it was nice to form some character development between them as we get to know Maddie and see what she’s about.

Now, the introduction of the Masked Man was a bit shocking and we fully know what he’s about right from the outset.  The introduction makes it abundantly clear that he has ill intentions towards Maddie which creates concern for the audience in relation to what may happen to the main character.  It actually provided quite a jump scare when his introduction happens and it’s quite a contrast when you see how it doesn’t affect Maddie in the slightest due to her hearing-loss.

Now, I’d mentioned two movies of this same genre, The Strangers and You’re Next, because this movie seems to borrow heavily from them both.  But really, if you think about it, You’re Next appropriates ideas from The Strangers, so it’s a little befuddling to say that this movie takes from both…but I digress.  Like those two movies, the introduction of the villain here shows up with a simple white mask leaving his appearance devoid of emotion.  The fact that we don’t know who he is or that we can’t see any type of facial reactions or emotions is scary, making us feel even more for our main character here.  Not only that, but we—as the audience—see him first as Maddie sits unaware of the danger that is awaiting her. 

I usually don’t enjoy films that use cell phones or computers as plot devices, but in Hush, it was used well and importantly—mostly as a device for the baddie of the film to antagonize the main character in some very creepy ways.  However, there was a scene where Maddie is FaceTiming with her sister, Max (Emma Graves), and the Masked Man decides to walk by in the background, leaving Max to ask her sister who was there.  Seeing that this was early in the film, before Maddie realizes she’s being watched and stalked by a stranger, I felt the filmmakers could’ve explored this a little further to create a more unnerving situation. It was, however, a turning point for the story so I really can’t fault the inclusion of it.

I liked how the filmmakers showed us how it would it feel to be in Maddie’s shoes, where we couldn’t hear anything except a muffled heartbeat and breathing (although I don’t think someone who’s completely deaf couldn’t even hear that, but I can’t be completely sure).  They do convey how helpless it would feel to go through such an ordeal without an important sense that we all take for granted.  Nevertheless, the filmmakers, at the same time, show us how our main character can use that to her advantage to get the upper hand on the villain.

In a lot of films, the story is sometimes foreshadowed near the beginning with something visual or spoken.  For instance, in the beginning of Back to the Future, as the film opens in Doc Brown’s home, we get a panning shot throughout his main room.  During this scene, we see a bunch of clocks, one bearing the scene from an old silent film, Safety Last, with Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock’s minute hand, which foreshadowed what would happen to Doc Brown at the end of the movie.  Here, it’s not so subtle, as we get a taste of how Maddie writes her books, having a hard time coming up with an ending she likes, so she writes multiple ones and decides later on how it will play out.  Using that same mentality during a pivotal scene of Hush, our heroine uses that logic in her head.  I’d really liked how the filmmakers filmed it and it actually had me fooled when the scene’s first presented.

If there’s anything in this film I can criticize is how the villain of the story unmasks himself to show his face to the main character and staying that way for the remainder of the story.  Though it was critical to the plot of the film, it took away the mystery of who this person was and just made him seem more human instead of a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers figure.  Another thing that got me and made it easier for the bad guy of the story is how Maddie just leaves her door open for her cat to come back in when she doesn’t find her around the house.  Though she may think she’s safe from any intruders since she’s isolated in the woods, there are still wild animals that may decide to make her house their home…I was waiting for a raccoon or mountain lion to show up before the Masked Man walked in.  Also, there is some subplot during the commencement of this film, showing our main character as having some previous relationship as she plays with the idea of calling this person up only to hang up before they answer.  It follows up with some texts, but never comes back to it later in the film and I really didn’t get why that had to be included in this story.

Finally, I have to say that I was impressed with this director, Mike Flanagan, and surprised at his résumé of films on  Though there haven’t been many films he’s directed, I was more fascinated with what’s coming up for him.   Before this film, he directed the unnerving Oculus, but has Before I wake coming up this year and looks to be set as director of the Stephen King-adapted, Gerald’s game.  I’m always ready to watch a Stephen King adaptation!

Now…my final “bit” on Hush?

As the plot of the film is very simple and short, the film never lets up on the enthusiasm once it gets going.  The acting is well done, the story is tight and never dulls out with any filler or intervals, there’s nothing complicated or implausible here…just an thrilling story of someone being terrorized in an isolated house in the woods.  Though I’d mentioned that I liked watching films like this during the fall time of Halloween, it’s still enjoyable to watch this during the throes of summer, winter, or spring.  Just make sure to lock up your house before sitting to watch this, because you may become unnerved when the meat of this story begins with the introduction of the Masked Man.  All in all, this story is well-written and ends on a high note, satisfying you on all counts.  Hush should not be missed.

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