A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Mike Flanagan
Written By: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Produced By: Trevor Macy, Jason Blum
Starring: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr.
Running Time: 81 Minutes
A winning formula for a heart-pounding thrill ride is to put a character in a relatable place that provides protection, shelter and peaceful solitude (i.e. they’re home), before taking those sacred qualities away from them completely.
A new straight-to-Netflix feature that has generated some buzz around the Internet is Mike Flanagan’s Hush, a home invasion thriller centred on a solitary deaf writer and a maniacal mask-wearing doorknocker with an unknown agenda.
The foundation of the film alone is enticing as it screams a likeness to the supremely unnerving The Strangers from 2008, but adds a few extra element into the mix, resulting in added gripping suspense.
Hush is an odd mix of genuinely on-edge tension and predictable, silly plot points that ultimately leave the film shooting itself in the foot. Flanagan had a brilliant premise to work upon and chose to reveal certain elements far too soon, let the story play out in a ridiculously over the top way and ultimately leave the audience severely let down, especially when considering how well the film began.
One glance at the mask of the unknown invader is enough to send chills down the spine of the viewer. The blankness, the featureless stare and the overall anonymity of the antagonist are all elements that work so heavily in favour of the filmmaker. Add the element of protagonist Maddie’s (Kate Siegel) deafness into the mix and you have some truly shocking scenarios to explore.
The introduction of the crossbow-sporting character is cleverly tackled and has a strong effect, as does the continuation of the speechless conversations between the two characters. The cat-and-mouse game they play is relatively well choreographed in a scattered, unpredictable way, which even makes some shameless jump scares seem appropriate, when used sparingly of course.
Moreover, the fluctuating shifts in control result in a surprisingly clever quality in tone – something the audience may not be used to seeing in these otherwise one-way narratives. Rather than having Maddie cry and squeal her way through the entire runtime, she collects herself and outwits the masked psychopath on a few occasions, which adds a vast level of intrigue to the contrasting and shifting dynamic on display.
The use of technology is handled very intelligently, and there’s an obvious awareness of simple solutions for Maddie to pursue that are consciously woven into the story. It’s refreshing to see that the writers haven’t overlooked certain logistical elements that horror and thriller features are infamous for and take it upon themselves to throw several obstacles in Maddie’s way.
It’s still sad to say however, that the negatives vastly outweigh the positives in the case of Hush.
Without delving into the realm of spoilers and plot reveals, Hush tangles a convoluted web of cliché and misguidedness, resulting in the film being caught up in its own creative mess. It can be appreciated what the creators were striving for with the minimal cast, singular location and handful of lines, however somewhere down the line (shortly after the second act to be more specific), it forgot exactly what it was.
There was a great deal of potential for this small independent picture, but regrettably it ventures down roads that leave the audience shaking their heads, huffing in disappointment and wishing it had stayed true to itself.
By thinking otherwise when it came to certain details in the unfolding of the story, Hush could’ve been one of the most gripping and assaulting thrillers of the year, however, like many of its kind, it promised a lot and delivered very little in the long run.