I watch horror movies to relax. There have been countless times where my husband arrived home to find a grotesque scene unfolding on the television as I calmly cross-stitched on the couch. As such, I’ve seen many, many horror flicks. I am rarely surprised, impressed, or affected by horror movies.
Hush had my heart thudding in my chest, my palms sweaty, and my body rigid with tension. I was genuinely unsure of what was going to happen and how things would end. There was only one piece of action that I saw coming, but at some point I was even unsure of whether it would be used at all. It is a great horror flick.
Currently sporting 100 percent positive critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, Hush is a low-budget horror film that premiered this year at SXSW. There are a few things that make Hush unique, like the deaf-mute protagonist and the story’s conception over a dinner date between the lead actress and the director (Mike Flanagan, Oculus). It was also purchased by Netflix, where you can watch the movie from the comfort of your own home. I don’t know if home is where you really want to watch Hush.
Maddie (Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the film) is a reclusive author living in a lovely cottage in the woods. There are windows throughout her home, allowing her to take in the beauty of the forest all around her. Her friends Sarah (Samantha Sloyan) and her boyfriend John (Michael Trucco) live within walking distance of Maddie’s home, but it’s not a short walk.
After a ruined attempt at cooking dinner, Maddie starts to clean up and, through one of her many window-filled doors, attracts the attention of the Man (10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr.). Man is intrigued by the idea of stalking prey that is unable to speak or hear him approach and decides he’s going to scare Maddie to the point where death will be welcome. It’s clearly a game he’s never gotten to play before and he is set on having fun.
I’m not going to ruin anything or spoil the movie for those who want to watch it. I highly recommend watching it without reading much about it. I only knew that the protagonist was deaf and that she would be stalked in her house, The Strangers Style. I thought that taking away one of the weapons a person would have against an attacker would be enough to lift Hush above the pack of home invasion flicks. It definitely ratcheted up the tension and removed the incessant yelling and screaming that can be so tedious in horror.
It also made me more protective of Maddie, making me more invested in her survival. That then affected how the entire movie was able to really get under my skin. Adding to this effect was the tight run-time of one hour and twenty-seven minutes. Flanagan doesn’t waste time or throw horror tropes at the screen to see what sticks. He takes the premise and keeps everything small scale: cast, locations, speech. There are less than 15 minutes of film with dialogue and I did not even realize it until I read the fact after my viewing.
If you’re in the mood for a well-acted, less cliche, and somewhat original take on the same old stalker/slasher flick, Hush is available to stream exclusively on Netflix right now.