From Mike Flanagan, director of Oculus, comes the home invasion thriller Hush. A minimalist, but effective thriller that has wound up straight on Netflix. The film stars Kate Siegel (who also wrote the film) as Maddie, a deaf and mute author who lives on her own in an isolated woodland cottage. One night whilst struggling to find a suitable ending to her next novel, she finds herself the target of a home invasion by a masked stranger. Unable to hear and unable to speak, Maddie barricades herself in her home and tries to find a way to escape and find help before the stranger can get her.
As a film fan I love Netflix, I really do, but this film deserves to be, and should be seen in a cinema. Why? Because not only is it better than every other horror/thriller released this year (The Witch aside), it’s also a really well directed and written film. Recent films within the home invasion sub genre tend to use brutal depictions of violence to tide the story by as residents are picked off one by one, here however we have a one versus one scenario. Maddie, all alone with the impediments to her senses faces off against a single stranger willing to wait and take pleasure in the situation. And although there is some rather nasty violence, it’s not consistent throughout the film, so you don’t become numb to it and it packs a punch each time.
The minimalist nature of the setting, an isolated house in the middle of nowhere, as well as the small cast makes for a refreshingly straightforward film that doesn’t slip into the pitfalls of a meandering plot. The simplistic nature of having a psychopath place an emotional and physical burden on our lead Maddie is effective, especially considering there are plenty of avenues to explore with Maddie’s condition. A childhood illness left Maddie unable to hear or speak, and the loss of those senses of course makes the exploration of a well trodden scenario a little different. There’s no wild screaming for help, or listening out for footsteps, Maddie must use the other senses at her disposal to try and come out of it alive.
What also makes this angle really good, apart from some eventual representation of a character who is deaf or mute, is that it allows Mike Flanagan to create the film a little differently. In a number of scenes the sound fades out to silence as we get a sense of what Maddie is experiencing. It’s a good touch but I would have liked for them to do this throughout the entire film, It would ramp up tension and suspense dramatically as like Maddie you’d be unable to hear the stranger coming. Now this would make it a silent film, but considering the use of a character such as Maddie it’s perfectly feasible to do, and viewers would understand. Now John Gallagher Jr. may not be a name that strikes a chord with your memory, but he has had great performances in Short Term 12, recent release 10 Cloverfield Lane and a stint on The Newsroom. Here he morphs into a bad guy remarkably, and uncomfortably well, Keep an eye on this guy.
Overall Hush is likely to be one of the finer horror/thrillers that your likely to miss this year (unless you trust my review!) as it’ll fly under the radar due to it’s lack of promotion on Netflix. It’s cool that people can just stumble across it, but when you have tripe such as The Forest and Friend Request plaguing cinema screens across the world it makes for a sad fact that it might not be seen as much as it should, and not experienced like it could have been on the silver screen. I thoroughly recommend this film as a nice little gem on Netflix, at the very least put it on your list to watch and you won’t be disappointed.