A deaf woman is stalked by a psychotic killer in her secluded home.
April 8, 2016
Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Kate Siegel as Maddie
John Gallagher Jr. as Man
Just a few years back I would have told you that James Wan, Rob Zombie and Eli Roth were the future of this genre. While all of those men are no doubt impressive filmmakers with unwavering fan bases, I’ve now got to make a confession. Mike Flanagan is the future of this genre. He’s the guy that’s going to rule this roost for years to come. Of that I am quite confident. Flanagan just doesn’t miss. He aims, he shoots and he nails the target. As is evidenced by Hush.
It all started with Absentia, an indie film shot on a $70,000 budget that no doubt recovered cost and then some. It opened the eyes of horror freaks around the globe. It got people talking, it got people buying. Most importantly, it got people demanding more work from the man. And he got it, in the form of Oculus. This time around Flanagan had a $5 million budget to work with. He made the best of it, crafting yet another chilling tale that fans would, once more, get behind. The movie grossed more than $44 million worldwide, making it a certified success.
Since the release of Oculus fans have been clamoring for more work from Flanagan. And yesterday that work arrived under a somewhat unlikely scenario. Hush just hit Netflix streaming. That means no hunt for limited theatrical showings and no outlandish ticket prices. No VOD fees (outside of your Netflix subscription fee, of course) to fork over, either. And if ever there was a film worth paying for, it’s Hush.
The picture is a home invasion tale, but it’s a home invasion tale with a lot of unexpected and shocking details. Maddie is a deaf, mute author. She lives in a secluded area, dense foliage surrounding her quaint home. It’s peaceful, until a man with a mask shows up at her door. Without hesitation the torment begins as our unknown assailant begins relentlessly hounding the woman, moving from door to door, looking for entrance. He disables her car, he cuts her power. He’s left her completely isolated from the outside world, and her disabilities are only going to ensure surviving such an encounter is nearly impossible.
Flanagan, who co-writes with Kate Siegel, who plays Maddie, forces so many terribly uncomfortable moments upon viewers that it’s impossible to relax for even the briefest of moments. Maddie is never, ever safe, and the few friends and neighbors she has, are basically left out in the dark, as she can’t accomplish much in the way of communication. But fear not, this writing duo finds a realistic way to introduce a few extra characters, just to ensure we see a reasonable body count climb by the final credits. And, just for the records, as that body count climbs, the gore intensifies.
Kate Siegel’s performance is absolutely jaw-dropping. This is about as close to Oscar worthy as it gets when it comes to the horror genre, but she’s not entirely alone in flexing performance chops. John Gallagher Jr., who plays the unnamed menace of the film is great. The chemistry he shares with Siegel is spot on. There’s a lot of tension between these two, and as the final act gets underway, and Maddie realizes her only chance at survival is a pure one-on-one confrontation, the two turn into a whirlwind of magical violence. Sublime performers transcending the very material with which they work. And it’s all so damn convincing that the goosebumps that rose on your flesh in the first 15 minutes of the film, are still present and now throbbing.
The general lack of a score is genius, as is Flanagan’s decision to shoot certain sequences in complete silence. Those moments help us to relate to Maddie more than we already do. She’s a terrific final girl, Gallagher Jr. makes for an eerie and intimidating villain and Flanagan stands behind the camera from the jump, providing perfect direction. It’s still earl, but Hush stands a very good chance of maintaining position as one of 2016’s greatest films.