Weekly Review: Hush (2016)

A young deaf woman is isolated when a sadistic killer arrives on her door step in the middle of the night. With no escape and no way to call for help, she finds herself in a kill or be killed scenario.

Hush is directed by Mike Flanagan, most known for his films Oculus and Absentia. It premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March 2016, before getting picked up by Netflix. It made its streaming debut on April 8, 2016.

As a whole, there’s nothing too new about Hush. You have an author who moves to a secluded cabin in order to work on her next book, and then it’s a typical home invasion story. What gives this movie a bit more of a flare is the fact that the main character is deaf, but even with that, Hush isn’t really covering any new ground. It stays in familiar territory.

This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t enjoyable. I definitely enjoyed it. Hush benefits from getting picked up by Netflix because I think it will benefit from how people watch Netflix. This is definitely a movie that is best watched on your couch before bed or as a quick time killer.

Hush is decently short, sitting at just 87 minutes. There are still some parts that tend to drag around the middle, but it picks up again to potentially surprise you in the end. The movie may have been better served as a short film, but I’m glad to see that the story got attention as a feature. I will also mention here that while it seemed to drag the first time I watched it, multiple viewings made the pacing seem much quicker.

Since the movie is about a home invasion, it centers around two people. There are a couple of characters that come in for a bit here and there, but the main focus is between our main character and the killer. I have to say I think the actors did a really good job.

Our main character is portrayed by Kate Siegel. I think she’s a new face because the credits for Hush describe her role as an introduction. Siegel stars in the movie, and she also co-wrote the script with the director. I think she did a great job. I found her character very likable. Since she was playing a deaf and mute character, a lot of her acting came through in her facial expressions, and she was able to portray both fear and strength pretty well.

Our antagonist (and sadistic killer as I keep referring to him) is played by John Gallagher, Jr. He did a pretty great job as well. The story never really gives any motive for why he is doing these evil things, but Gallagher does a decent job of giving the viewer some ideas. His portrayal of the killer is scary in its bluntness. His character is very reminiscent of the masked killers in You’re Next, but his intentions seem far more random, being sadistic simply for the sake of it. Gallagher really makes it seem like he enjoys his actions which adds to the fear factor of the character.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, one of the aspects that makes this movie stand out is the fact that the main character is deaf. The movie utilizes her deafness as both an advantage and disadvantage in the plot. This is one of those movies where almost everything you’re shown is going to become important at some point. The story attempts going into detail to describe how the main character became deaf, and although I didn’t feel an explanation was necessary, it also serves as a brief moment for character development in the few relationships that the main character has.

You may ask yourself how a movie plays out when the main character is deaf. In the case of Hush, not much different from a movie without a deaf main character. She uses ASL to speak with others (with subtitles), but other characters speak to her because she can read lips. She has aids in her home, for example a fire alarm with flashing lights that’s loud enough so she can feel the vibrations. There are some moments where the movie takes a step back and puts the viewer in the main character’s shoes, eliminating most sound except for maybe a heartbeat. Of course, you also have the aspect that she can’t hear the person who is trying to kill her, which leads to some really suspenseful situations.

There are definitely some moments in Hush that are pretty brutal. If you’re squeamish, you might not like that. I know I was cringing at a couple of points. The movie doesn’t shy away from showing death and injury. There are knife wounds, arrow wounds, broken bones, and more. Personally, the broken bones really got me.

I would have been interested to see how the movie would have played out if the character being deaf had more of an impact on the mode of storytelling. I’ve heard there was another film at SXSW which featured a deaf character so I’ll try to check that out if I come across it.

Overall, Hush is a more than decent thriller. Don’t expect to see anything too new about it, but it is entertaining nonetheless. The acting is pretty great, and I found the main character to be compelling. I do recommend this movie absolutely. As I mentioned, it’s available on Netflix streaming, so when you have a chance, do check out this indie work from a director who is pretty great at presenting streamlined stories.



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