Hush (2016) Review!

Deaf and Axes

 

A reviewer is not late, he arrives precisely when he means to.


 

Hush is a low-budget horror/thriller released straight to Netflix that’s been steadily building up a reputation as one of the surprises of the year. Directed by Mike Flanagan of Oculus (one of my favorite horror movies in recent years) and starring his co-writer Kate Siegel, it’s a home invasion tale with a twist- the invadee is mute and deaf.

In a movie culture paradoxically obsessed both with more of the same and more novelty, it can be hard to get a good read on what an audience wants. You and every self-appointed movie buff on your Facebook feed bemoan remakes and sequels and movies that don’t do anything new to the genre. But you look at the box office gross for 2015 and the top 6- Star Wars VII, Jurassic World, Furious 7, Avengers 2, Minions, and Spectre are all sequels, remakes, or spinoffs.

The easy financial move would have been to remake Halloween or Friday the 13th for the billionth time. But Hush isn’t concerned with financial success. The release on Netflix and $70,000 budget get an attest to that. What Hush represents is something simple, yet bold. Film for film’s sake. Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel had an idea for a movie. So they made that movie. The result is something that feels genuine, created by people who love their craft. Though it’s ultimately not going to be a game-changer or genre definer.

The entire five person cast, starring co-writer Kate Siegel and broadway star turned film actor John Gallagher Jr, is terrific. And they have to be. The movie rests on their shoulders. Samantha Sloyan, however, turns in a supporting performance that seals the deal. In very little screentime, she takes on the role of hooking the audience on the movie’s premise and succeeds with flying colors. Without her, there’s no hook. If there’s no hook, there’s no tension. If there’s no tension, there’s no movie. So good on you, Samantha Sloyan.

Flanagan’s direction is tight and tense like in Oculus, but Oculus was a much “prettier” film visually. (I have a feeling the comparatively giant budget for Oculus has something to do with that, however.) A one house setting can easily feel bland, but it never does here. There are long sections of the movie without dialogue, as one character can’t talk and the other is somewhere lurking out of sight, but his direction and Kate Siegel’s acting chops almost make you forget about it. The film’s blistering fast pace and brief run time (not even 80 minutes) help with that as well.

The movie’s not perfect. There aspects to the script that are really interesting but undeveloped. Siegel and Flanagan created a very cool and engaging way to show the lead’s thought process, but only use it once. It’s a trick that I felt could have been expanded on instead of a one-off. The “fun” (using the word lightly here) of the movie is watching our main character out think her masked assailant, and I would have loved to see more of those scenes.

A minor complaint I have is that while the movie thankfully embraces Chekov’s Gun and sets up key plot points in advance before coming back to them in the final showdown, they’re set up in a way where it’s pretty obvious what they’re doing. You see the scene and go “well, guess she’s gonna use that object to help her fight off the guy when he arrives.” And you’re right. Takes a teeny bit of the suspense away from the action when you’re waiting for said thing to return.

Hush is a project clearly done by people who love making movies. It does not feel like a movie made to make a quick buck and comes off as a genuine passion project, which is great. The performances and effort by all involved warms my heart to see this amid a slew of uninspiring efforts. But it doesn’t get too whacky. It’s central gimmick or twist- the main character being deaf and mute- doesn’t completely change the story. It’s still a rather straightforward home invasion flick and proves that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make good movies. You just have to be a little creative.


If Hush were a cookie, it would be a chocolate chip cookie. If you like the cookie family of deserts, you’ll like a chocolate chip cookie. It’s about as safe a bet as you can get, though it’s not going to change your world view on pastries. If you don’t like horror/cookies, then don’t pick it up. If you do, watch it.

And come on, who doesn’t love cookies?

I mean horror.

Author: Jaden C. Kilmer

Writer, aspirator, daydreamer, word makerupper.

5 thoughts on “Hush (2016) Review!”

  1. Hi! You asked me to check out your reviews on my blog, so here I am.

    This was a good review that told the basics of the story without spoilers. It was nice you’d also seen the director’s other movie and could make some comparisons between two movies of a similar genre. Your writing was good and clear, and you managed to make me interested in the movie. I’m not a huge horror fan but I enjoy them every now and then, and Hush sounds like a good choice for my next horror-night.

    This is not for the review but I thought I’d throw it in anyway: I like the color palette of your blog, but you might want to reconsider the layout. I felt like I had to scroll through half the page to find the actual review because the pictures are quite big and there’s a lot of empty space at the top. Also when using a directory page (2016 Reviews), it’s important to keep it updated.

    In any case, good luck with the blog! I at least am interested in seeing more of your reviews in the future 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you! I haven’t shared them around too much, though I hang out in movie related subreddits frequently and sometimes post reviews in threads there.

      Like

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