Director – Mike Flanagan
Cast – Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan
Release Year – 2016
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Hush brings an element to the horror genre that we seldom see used – disabilities. There are a few genre flicks out there with blind protagonists, and this is the first I have seen to involve a deaf person. With someone always in fear of losing their life, the senses are very important in these films, so removing one sure does up the ante. That is the case with Hush, the newest effort from director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Absentia). It takes a simple home invasion premise and expands on it with clever use of characters, lots of tension, and more horror than I expected (always a good thing).
Kate Siegel stars as Maddie, a deaf writer who takes up residence in a secluded home to aid in her creativity. Late one night a masked maniac learns of her disability, and fully exploiting it, forces Maddie to survive by any means necessary.
Co-written with lead Kate Siegel, Mike Flanagan’s story takes off quickly – almost too quickly. After a brief introduction of Maddie’s life, where we learn of her disability, how it happened, and just how alone she is (she has no nearby friends and is ignoring her ex boyfriend). The first death occurs only 12 minutes in, and it is an incredible one. There isn’t a massive amount of gore, but the tenacity of the kill, including numerous unnecessary stab wounds, is what left me in awe. Because Maddie did not respond to the noise from the kill the killer realizes he is dealing with a deaf potential victim. He uses this to his full advantage in toying with her in the creepiest ways possible. We watch as he enjoys her squirming reactions to his game, including the supreme shock of eventually seeing the menace behind the madness. The look of the killer is awesome. It’s a simple gig, where a creepy mask does all the work. The reason I said that the story moves almost too quickly is the mask comes off earlier than I would have liked. Once the mask was removed the killer was no longer scary to me. He did, however, provide lots of tension in this cat and mouse game. With nowhere to run, Maddie is constantly finding herself almost captured as she tries different methods of escaping. With very few characters, a total of 4 who make an in-person appearance, there are not very many deaths for the viewer to enjoy. Instead, Flanagan uses tension to seal the deal.
The direction of this film plays a big part in why I enjoyed it so much. With a simple premise and very few kills, the tension had to be expertly executed – which it was. To start, the sets and locations used did the trick. The house had a spooky feel to it when the electricity was cut (that’s not a spoiler, you know that always happens), and its solemn wooded location held with it a sense of dread in knowing that nobody would hear her screams. Our lead actors, Kate Siegel and antagonist John Gallagher Jr. do a fantastic job selling their roles, which also played a big part in the high tension provided. Gallagher (10 Cloverfield Lane) did well as the killer, but again I still prefer him with the mask on. Flanagan’s direction of the kills was solid, and he did not shy away from the blood. This isn’t a gory flick, but he definitely uses enough of it to leave the viewer shocked at what they are seeing. I was really surprised by the tenacity of the kills and even an extreme injury later on in the film. Mike’s direction is full-frontal, never shying away from the goods, and with another solid film under his belt this guy has a chance at making Ouija 2 something maybe worth watching.
Overall, Hush is a solid horror/thriller that uses very little to leave a very big impact on the viewer. This is a testament to good overall execution of story and direction, and one that I suggest you check out if you are into home invasion flicks.