Film Review: Hush (2016)

Hush is a Horror/Thriller directed by Mike Flanagan and stars Kate Siegel and John Gallagher Jr. The ‘Home Invasion’ genre is growing tired and redundant, how do I know this? Well the fact that I can refer to it as a genre now is a dead giveaway. How many more times can we be forced to watch a hapless family struggle against a murderous invading force and still remain engaged enough to feel the intensity as it strives to be felt? Well apparently at least one more time, because despite its partially clichéd premise, Hush is a nail-bitingly intense Horror film.

The film differentiates itself from its peers by making it’s protagonist, a successful writer named Madi, a deaf mute. While Madi’s disability probably wasn’t as utilized in the plot as I’d have liked it to be (particularly in the third act), they do provide some unique scares early on as the masked terrorizer wanders around her isolated home unnervingly casually. Somehow watching Madi hyperventilate in terror at the sight of the killer is more traumatising than the hundreds of shrieking damsels in distress I’d witnessed before her. She is no damsel in distress either; bolstered by Siegel’s impressive performance, I never expected to be so inspired by a horror movie as Madi worked through her disadvantages to outsmart her attacker time and time again. The killer is hardly your cut and paste variety of slasher psychopath either, and while he was refreshing, I felt like his quip-laden dialogue was occasionally at odds with the brutality of the film.

The silence of the film is central to its tension building. Adding to the oppressively silent atmosphere is the woodland setting where Madi takes residence, in complete isolation of course. This setting lets the cinematography shine, with some haunting shots of the killer lurking in the corner of the frame set against the cold darkness of the shrubbery as our protagonist peeks outside a window. Flanagan does a pristine job at fleshing out the structure of the house, which made me feel like I was right beside Madi trying desperately to plot where to go next. Outside of the subtleties much of the unease that comes with watching Hush is spawned from the sheer violence of it all. Very early on in the movie one of the few periphery characters is stabbed to death by the killer. The scene is disturbingly visceral, and as the killer drives his knife in and out of the helpless woman, Hush takes on a bone-chilling tone and never lets up.

Definitely not of the middling to awful quality of your standard Netflix exclusive, Hush is a genuinely horrific film that balances out its share of clichés with equal amounts of originality and pure brutality.

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