Hush would at first look like your regular Slasher movie with a twist, and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that. Fortunately, it’s much more than that, and even though I still think that it had the potential to be even greater, it’s a very competently made thriller, with some very good ideas behind it, but regrettably, not used to their fullest.
The story revolves around Maddie, a deaf and mute writer, who lives alone in a house in the middle of the woods. She does have neighbours, though, whom she’s befriended, and come to visit her from time to time; so she isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The reasons behind her isolation are never clearly explained, but through some e-mails and Skype chats with her sister, we learn that she used to live in the city, and that she also had a boyfriend. The latter might be the reason behind her sudden reclusiveness. We just don’t know. Anyhow, she’s working on her latest book, and is struggling to come up with an ending for it. During a conversation with her neighbour, we find that ever since a childhood disease that rendered her deaf and mute, she’s had this voice inside her head, that very much sounds like her mother’s, which basically speaks and advises her on how to write and finish her books. It also brings with it a lot of alternative endings, from which she can pick and choose, to finish her novels. Remember this, because it will come in handy at the end of the movie.
One night, Maddie is stalked by a misterious man wearing a mask. He, at first, kills Maddie’s neighbour, who was rushing to the house to try and warn her about him. Then she receives an e-mail sent by the Stalker, which includes a picture of her from a few seconds ago, sitting on the couch, working on her computer. She immediately shuts herself inside the house, and quickly realizes that, without being able to hear her Stalker coming, she’s gonna have to use her wits to escape from her predicament alive.
That is pretty much it. The novelty approach that the movie uses, is that the main protagonist is unable to hear. Now, as interesting as this idea may seem on paper, it’s not , in my humble opinion, executed in the most satisfying manner. The director Mike Flannagan, from Netflix’s TV Show, House of Haunted Hill fame, chooses at first to isolate both the Viewer and Maddie from the Stalker, and pretty much everything else around her and us, by cutting off the sound, or muffling it from the soundtrack, so we’re, more or less, in her shoes. And you would think that he’d do this for the rest of the movie, right?. Wrong. He only does this in a few scenes, which, in my opinion, diminishes the suspense and emotional impact that the story could’ve had. Had it been up to me, I would’ve chosen to muffle the sound mix when it came to her scenes, or her POV, and crank it up for the Stalker scenes. That being said, with such a simple set up, Flannagan does wonders. The protagonist tries every trick in the book to try and escape her attacker, failing every time. It is then, than she’ll start listening to her inner voice, and running through her head all the posible outcomes of her escaping her attacker alive, very much like she would when finding that elusive ending for her last book.
Most of the strength of this movie hangs on a very believable performance by Kate Siegel, very solid direction and editing by Flannagan, and a very simple, but very well put together script, penned by both Flannagan, and his wife and main protagonist Kate Siegel, resulting in a very entertaining movie. It’s just a shame that Flannagan wasn’t willing to risk it, and go one step further.
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