Written by J. Weagle
Silence can be killer.
I’ve always found home invasion movies to be some of the most terrifying in the horror genre. There is something about the primal fear that everyone can relate to and understand immediately, and when done correctly they can hit all too close to home. Thankfully director Mike Flanagan (Oculus) has managed to create a thriller that does just that and adds a slight twist to the overall premise.
Like every great horror film the plot is simple and direct. Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) is an author who lives a life of mostly isolation since losing her hearing as a teenager. Now living alone as a deaf-mute she spends all her time writing novels on her macbook, and attempting to learn to cook. Her life is simple until a masked psychopath (John Gallagher Jr) shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night. As you can probably guess this sets up a cat and mouse game, and in order to survive Maddie must overcome her weaknesses to make it through the night.
Let’s be honest, home invasion movies have been done to death. With that being said I would argue there are very few truly terrible ones. The idea alone just works and from the moment shit starts to hit the fan we are able to put ourself into Maddie’s shoes. The twist of having a deaf person is what really pushes this film past others like it and opens up some unique scenarios that for the most part succeed. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes it feels perfectly paced, and it does not take long for the nightmare to get rolling. I have to give major credit to both Flanagan and Siegel for really making us care for Maddie with little to no character development outside of her inability to hear or speak. Because of the short run time, things are not able to become tedious and the film utilizes its snappiness very well. With that being said there are a few scenes of Maddie doing stupid or repetitive things more than once such as trying to escape outside the house without being noticed only to be chased back inside.
The performances are very solid all around, but there are essentially only really two actors in the entire movie with the exception of a few small roles here and there. Kate Siegel was a real standout, relying on her expressions and more importantly her eyes to move the film forward. No actor is really given that much time to really stun or awe us, but they do a really solid job with what they were given.
There is something to be said for a simple horror film. Most of the great slashers of years past have been films that present us with a simple situation and a terrifying threat. Though I wouldn’t call the killer in Hush terrifying, his realness and zero empathy makes him seem like someone who could be a neighbour or someone you pass on the street. The directing is nothing flashy, and much like the premise it gets the job done without being gimmicky which is something to appreciate. Perhaps a few too many shots of Maddie peering out windows or the killer taunting her by tapping on the windows and doors.
Hush is a terrific little film, and one that any home invasion horror fan should watch. I do feel as though the idea of a deaf protagonist could have been exploited a bit more here than it was. There were plenty of great moments that did utilize it to help further push the tension but with such a great twist on the generic home invasion plot I would have been fine with it going a bit further. I was shocked at just how much fun Hush was, I had heard some good buzz but was not expecting to have been on the edge of my seat as much as I was.