Before there was A Quiet Place, there was Hush. A movie that went beyond the typical periphery and toyed with the human senses. On the surface, we meet Maddie (Kate Siegel). She’s a writer who is searching for a muse to help encourage her next big project.
Her inspiration was found in the middle of the woods (so, of course, what could go wrong there). She’s alone. It’s dark. And the writing juices are flowing. Only one problem, this dude wearing a skully and a wanna-be Michael Myers mask is standing at her door (played by John Gallagher, Jr).
We learn quickly, he’s there to take what he wants and kill her, only Maddie doesn’t seem to bothered by his presence. That’s primarily because she has no idea he is there at first.
Maddie is both deaf and mute. And that’s where the sheer terror ensues. She can’t scream for help or hear why she needs it.
When a Stranger Doesn’t Call
In real life, Kate Siegel and director of Hush, Mike Flanagan, is married. They concocted the idea of a seemingly helpless woman in the middle of nowhere compensating for the senses she does have to overcome and overpower a masked killer.
Much like A Quiet Place, this Netflix movie produced by Blumhouse Pictures absolutely jacks with the audience’s senses by removing them from the movie. There are less than 15 minutes of dialogue in this entire film — more than 70 minutes of silence.
Talk about having to pay attention.
The audience learns quickly what Maddie experiences, even in the midst of fighting for her life. Kate Siegel brilliantly conveys to the audience her vulnerability at first, and then quickly replaces that with her silent determination to beat this silent intruder at his own game.
That’s what makes Hush so largely underappreciated. Most horror movies follow a predictable script forced through ham-handed effects. Jump scares will happen, but you pretty much know where. Not here.
The movie is full of unique plot developments and subtle twists that keep you guessing, regardless of the POV at the time. Just because she can’t talk doesn’t mean the audience won’t, usually shouting at the screen to tell Maddie what to do.
- It’s a movie. No one can hear through the screen.
- Even if they could, she’s deaf, dude!
Silence is Golden
Hush is a film that is clearly inspired by the slasher films from the ’80s but it creates a new intoxicating twist — primarily because Kate Siegel makes you believe she is deaf and mute, and yet, you know it doesn’t inhibit her from fighting for her life.
Aside from the complexity of the plot, this film is a simple watch — five people, one location, barely any words. The audience doesn’t have a choice but to ride the side of their chairs and see how the final act will end.
And that is worth the wait.
Flanagan builds the tension in the film so effectively that it’s almost tangible across most of the movie’s 82 minutes. There is a considerable amount of foreshadowing, which tends to make the twists a little predictable, but it is handled with subtle finesse.
There’s no loud amplification of music, no instant animal noise. It all fits the film’s thematic progression: a moment of silence, stealth movements, slight understanding, and then…
Before the masked man tries to kill Maddie, he enjoys some games and tries to see just how deaf she is (as if there was a volume knob she had at her disposal). Saying too much spoils the surprises in the final act, but suffice to say, you should have heard of this by now if you love horror.
Even if you just love good movies with an interesting plot, Hush is great fun for a good evening. Only, with this one, you’ll have to Netflix then chill!