Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Hush" the movie

by Melissa Parkin

Hush follows Maddie (Kate Siegel), a young woman residing in a secluded cabin in the woods. Having lost her hearing and speaking ability at the age of 13 from bacterial meningitis, she is a deaf-mute author struggling to finish her latest novel. Taking a break, Maddie goes to wash some dishes when her friend Sarah (Samantha Sloyan) runs up to her kitchen door, screaming helplessly for Maddie to notice her. Despite the furious pounding on the glass from the outside, Maddie remains completely unaware as a hunting bow pierces Sarah in the back.

A masked man (10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr.) strolls up to the injured woman and repeatedly stabs her before slitting her throat. Maddie’s obliviousness piques the maniac’s interests, as he even knocks on the door. When the young woman inside doesn’t react, the killer’s fascination with her reaches new heights. Deciding to prolong her inevitable death, he begins playing a series of sadistic games with her. For starters, he steals her cell and sends pictures of Maddie to her computer, making the woman aware of his presence. So, why is this psycho doing this? As Billy Loomis said so perfectly in Scream, “It's a lot scarier when there's no motive.” And that’s where the real chills originate in this Mike Flanagan thriller.

Home invasion films are a dime a dozen, and finding a good one is about as hard as finding a four leaf clover. Sure, we get some gems by way of The Strangers and Panic Room, but they’re far and few amid a pile of stinkers. That’s why it’s hard not to relish in the glory when a solid home invasion thriller comes our way. When compared to thriller classics, Hush isn’t revolutionary. But that doesn’t mean it holds no merit. There’s no pussyfooting around it: 99% of modern horror films are downright terrible. Instead of genuine suspense and legitimate payoff, we get shrill music accompanied by ineffective jump scares.  

Hush offers a breath of fresh air, as Flanagan never resorts to these cheap thrills. No idiotic heroine acting irrationally. No cat jumping out from around the corner in a frightening fashion. Not even a classic villainous monologue. Just unsettling tension in a principally silent 81-minute movie. And that last note is another reason why this film is so effective. Other horror movies blare sinister music to up the ante, yet Hush plays it in reverse. When tensions run highest, the film in fact grows quieter. 

This chamber-piece thriller delivers on the goods in terms of innovation, direction, and acting. No question. Its only downfall: the final act admittedly descends into formulaic thriller territory. With stirring suspense films like The Gift still fresh in our minds, it’s hard not feel a bit deflated by Hush’s conclusion. Don't get me wrong. The film doesn’t fall apart. It just doesn’t match the rousing approach of its opening. Overall, this is a minor gripe for a thriller that works far more often than fails. It may not offer anything new to the genre, but it’s an enjoyably creepy movie worth the runtime. Even more impressive: it was made on a meager $70,000 budget.

Though the film premiered at South by Southwest just two short months ago, Hush was released in April on Netflix, making it available for streaming right now. Go watch it! It will not disappoint.

Rating: A -


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