“A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.”
If you know me, you know that I love to be surprised by a movie that I don’t expect too much from. I slid past this one on Netflix a number of times, and just kept moving on. After hearing one too many surprisingly positive reviews about Hush, however, I let it pass by no more and figured it was about the right time to check it out.
Directed by the incredibly polarizing Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus), Hush actually has some similarities to 10 Cloverfield Lane in more ways than one. Probably the biggest similarity is it’s close quarters story. The protagonist is completely isolated and finds herself in a cat-and-mouse game with her attacker. The cast is small, and it takes place entirely her f0rest home. While it has certain elements of slasher-movie cheese about it, it manages to build an effective and enjoyable tension found in the best of other movies like this one.
As I’ve said, more than once probably, with a small-scale movie like this, you really need a strong cast, which it absolutely does. Kate Siegel, who co-wrote the film with Mike Flanagan, stars as Maddie who is deaf and mute, after a battle with meningitis in her teens. Her performance is exceptional, especially given that she has to work through this intense and frightening scenario in complete and total silence. Siegel managed to convince me that she, in fact, could not speak or hear. She was strong enough in this particular movie that I am considering checking her out in the follow up to the ABYSMAL Ouija. So, that’s really saying something.
Starring alongside Siegel, is 10 Cloverfield Lane star John Gallagher Jr. as Man. Honestly, Gallagher is nearly unrecognizable (and no it’s not because of his mask), and really manages to make the role work. Man is a frightening character, and you really get a sense of fear and danger from him. There are some other actors in the film, but they’re only present for brief moments. Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, and Emma Graves round out the rest of the cast, and deliver solid performances, even as brief as they are.
Something that really makes this movie work comes from the fact that the masked psychopath doesn’t keep his mask on for the entire film, allowing him to build a character instead of just being a spooky mask. That said, Gallagher manages to convey a lot in a head-tilt, and there is a real sense of menace about him both with and without the mask. His character is believably unhinged, and really helps to add to the atmosphere and tension in the film. Man’s interaction with John is a fabulous example of how cunning and frightening this man really is.
All in all, Hush is a very effective film and at its perfectly reasonable 82 minutes, it’s completely worth your time. So if you’re like me, and keep passing this one by I can confidently advise you to give it a shot.
MY RATING: ****