- Title: Hush
- Director: Mike Flanagan
- Released: 2016
I watched Hush the other day, and had so many opinions about it that I just had to write down.
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.
Hush’s protagonist, Maddie Young (Kate Siegel), is a writer who is both deaf and has vocal paralysis – the after-effects of having meningitis as a teenager. As a result, Maddie’s perspective is one I’ve certainly not seen in film before and poses new problems within this horror scenario: she can’t cry* for help and she can’t hear her attacker approaching. So what does she do?
*A lack of screaming worked strongly in Hush’s favour; it was so refreshing not to have to watch another boring “helpless woman runs through the forest frantically screaming” film.
Maddie is a strong female who, despite a few silly moments**, mostly used logic and common sense to defend herself, avoid her attacker and plan her survival.
**I was screaming at my screen: “Why would you do that?” “No!” “Don’t go there!”
This was most evident in the scene where she has a dialogue with herself, allowing the audience to understand Maddie’s chain of thought even though she is mute. Again, this is a refreshing change from the helpless victim status women in horrors are often awarded.
“If you can’t run, hide, or wait, what does that leave?”
I thought the character of Maddie was developed well; we learn that she has a sense of humour as well as clever, caring and independent in just a few opening scenes. I found myself genuinely caring about the survival of Maddie and genuinely fearing the murderer who stalked her. This is another positive about Hush; the protagonist feels like a real character, unlike another stereotyped, standard issue horror victim.
A minor spoiler: there is blood and there is gore in this film – more than I had expected of a film rated 15 – and so I had to hide my face or cover my ears at certain points because of my squeamish nature.
However, the real horror “feel” in Hush was not generated by gore or by screams, but by creating and maintaining tension throughout. The dark colour palette of the film mirrors the dark tone of the story*** and the sound design – a mix of sound and silence to show both what the killer can hear and what Maddie can’t – was well done, and reminded me of Danny’s tricycle from Kubrik’s The Shining. Another intertextual reference was how the killer’s mask echoed Jason’s from the Friday the 13th franchise, and this made for a chilling entrance.
***Although, this darkness creates atmosphere for a horror film, it also makes things quite difficult to see!
Of course, there were a few jumpscares that anyone familiar with the horror genre could have predicted, but even these were well-executed and used few and far between.
I had some problems with Hush however. The Apple product placements were obvious and tedious, future weapons were clumsily foreshadowed at the beginning of the film, and there were unnecessary close-ups of items (a book blurb, for example) to provide characterising information about Maddie – information we were already given a few scenes prior.
However, despite my grumbles, I really enjoyed watching Hush. Even after the resolution of the film, I still wanted more of the story because I was simply not ready for it to end.
Thank you for reading!
Please click ‘Like’ if you enjoyed this post or click ‘Follow’ for more reviews and other book or film themed blog posts.