After illness took away her hearing and ability to talk when she was 13, writer Maddie (Katie Siegel) lives alone in a nice house surrounded by the woods. With her only visitor being her friend Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), life for Maddie is quaint and peaceful. However, as Maddie struggles with choosing the right ending for her newest book her writer’s block is interrupted when a masked assailant begins to torment her in an attempt to kill her.
At a mere 80 minutes Hush wastes little time in getting into things. As the film opens with Maddie cooking, there’s a cacophony of sound blaring from the scene. However, with a turn of the camera we’re placed in Maddie’s head where there is nothing but silence. This is only the first of a number of time in which we’re deprived of one of our senses and it’s just as scary each time.
Within the first 10 minutes we’re thrown into terror; there’s no build up, no back story, Hush pushes us into this situation and forces us to deal with it. I much preferred this in a way because there wasn’t any time to get bored, there’s a fine line between building tension and procrastinating from the action but Hush skips all that and throws us into it which works because that’s the situation Maddie finds herself in. She can’t hear a twig sanpping outside or a door opening upstairs so she can’t attempt to prepare herself for anything, she’s just thrust straight into it.
While Hush is by no means a terrifying film; there are close to no times that I jumped out of my skin, something it does incredibly well is build tension. As Maddie becomes trapped to the confides of her house, with the assailant outside threatening to come in at any moment (“I can come in at any time I want… but I’m not going to… when you wish you were dead, that’s when I’ll come inside”) she must keep eyes on him at all times, meaning she can’t hide away. A lot of Hush‘s tension comes from Maddie needing to be out in the open because she must rely on her sight, therefore she’s an easier target.
Dealing with a character that is deaf, the film uses its sound (or lack of it) to its advantage. When we’re inside Maddie’s head and not hearing anything, it’s a constant reminder of how careful she must be. I found myself judging her for some of the decisions she made throughout, sometimes forgetting that she didn’t have the same advantage as the killer. However when we’re not in Maddie’s head and we can hear everything the killer can hear, it’s difficult not to panic for her as her attempts at being quiet aren’t always successful. In many horrors the killer always manages to unrealistically sneak up on the victim without making a peep, however in Hush the need for the killer to be quiet is futile, making it all the more gripping when watching.
The film’s pacing is done well and the action is more or less constant, with very few exchanges of dialogue. For me, there’s something about film’s losing their sound that makes them eerie. The dream sequence in The Exorcist for example is the most terrifying part of the film for me. However, what ruins it for me in Hush is how fast they are to unmask the killer. It’s almost instantly and I think he loses a lot of his power after that. For me he wasn’t as threatening without the mask. I was hoping for more interaction between a silent killer and a silent victim but unfortunately there was barely any of it.
Hush provided some good scares, a lot of tension and a solid plot. Written by Mike Flanagan and first time writer Kate Siegel the two have created a good film that gives a bit of a new look at the genre. Flannigan, who also directed, has given a film that horror fans who loved You’re Next should definitely enjoy. Hush is another Blumhouse production that will stay on my watch list.
You can find Hush on Netflix.
Thanks for reading,
all the best,