Imagine if you were the protagonist in a home invasion horror movie. Now, try to navigate your way through when you’re completely deaf. That alone should already make you nervous around your surroundings at all times. Watching Mike Flanagan’s Hush come into play with a simple plot like that shows anything can be scary without one of our senses.
What’s the Story: Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a deaf writer who isolated herself in the woods. It should’ve been an easy evening of her coming up with an ending to her new book that has left her on the verge of terror when a masked individual (John Gallagher Jr.) stalks her outside her window armed with a knife and a bow and arrow.
Released back in early 2016, Hush was a horror film I remember hearing about, but I didn’t think it was in any interest for me to watch it. I didn’t even know Blumhouse produced this. One of the few movie reviewers I watch on YouTube, Chris Stuckmann, talked about this on his channel, and I did recall him really enjoying it. Since it was on Netflix, and it was about time to finally sit down and watch what most horror fans were talking about for the past four years. A part of me either thought it was going to end up being a frightening experience or a waste of time of not being scared. Hush is one of the better slash films to come out in a long time.
Flanagan has made a name for himself in the horror genre in the last decade, especially most recently with Doctor Sleep, which is very underrated and I highly recommend it to everyone. The only movie I’ve watched prior to 2016 was kind of fine horror film Oculus. At first glance, this sounds like any other typical horror invasion thriller we might’ve seen before. But the aspect that got me hooked when I heard about this is the main girl is deaf. If this hasn’t been done before in a different way, I haven’t watched it. In Hush’s case, it was an idea well executed since it’s a major problem for a character like this to be in. And what’s even more interesting is the killer is just taking his precious time not breaking in when Maddie first discovers him, and it makes its short runtime of 81 minutes leave you in a state of paranoia after it’s finished.
Kate Siegel, who also wrote this with her now-husband Flanagan, makes her feature debut here, and she’ll appear in other projects from the director later on. She holds her own without me knowing that this was her first movie ever, which made for an exceptional performance all the way around. It’s impressive how her character only communicates through sign language or when she has her inner thoughts. Even though it was weird for her not to have a lot of dialogue, her facial expressions were convincing enough to know how she’s supposed to feel. The script she and Flanagan wrote together just knew how to be creepy without ruining the atmosphere that the film already brought.
Now I’ve been praising John Gallagher Jr. for as long as I can remember since I always believe him to be one of the most underrated talents working today. Oddly enough, this came out a month after he appeared in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Boy, does he know how to be a psychopath with perfection as the unnamed person behind the mask. The moment he showed up meant I should now take this movie seriously. Just the way he basically torments Maddie from the outside works so well. Now I see a reason why masks will always freak me out when it comes to these movies.
As I was watching everything unfolded, nothing came to be a shocking revelation, but it’s more of a straightforward thriller just getting under your skin, hoping nothing happens to our key character. She’s trapped in her own house with no way of getting out of there alive. You’re left in a scary situation. As he cut off all the power, and she quickly locked all the doors and windows with no cell phone, I was wondering what the outcome would be. Using the single location of her home in the woods made excellent use of this predicament.
Is this something to recommend to non-horror fans? I wouldn’t say so because even though there were a couple of moments of jump scares, they sneak up on you without you even knowing. After all, I love how there’s no sound when it cuts to Maddie at certain times and you can’t hear the knocking on the window. It also gets a little bloody here and there. When I was watching it, I had a few reactions where I almost screamed, “No!” at my computer screen when anything suspenseful happens, and that’s a plus.
Suspenseful without feeling forced, Hush is a smart and excellent slash thriller that I can’t believe I waited until now to watch it on a random day. With Flanagan’s expert directing and performances from Siegel and Gallagher Jr., I don’t understand why this isn’t being talked about. Does this try to be the greatest thing ever made? No, but trust me when I say this is leagues better than You’re Next. Whenever you’re bored and watched everything in sight on Netflix, watch this and find a better appreciation for horror movies. You won’t regret it.
Overall Grade: A-