A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears in her window.
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Tightly scripted, with some shocking twists and turns, “Hush” offers an interesting spin on the home invasion formula as a deaf-mute woman is tormented in her isolated home in the woods.
After losing her hearing at a young age, Maddie (Kate Siegel) lives alone out in the forest. This provides some degree of safety and also allows for the utmost focus on her difficult sophomore novel. Her writer’s self-doubt manifests itself as her dead mother’s voice, ringing around her head, shooting down possible endings for the book.
All signs point to this being the movie that earned director Mike Flanagan the “Gerald’s Game” gig and it’s interesting to see some of the ideas he tackled in that Stephen King adaptation take seed in this violent, but empathetic, Netflix Original horror film. Here, too, he explores the interiority of a lone woman in a desperate situation, whilst also finding ways to make a single, isolated location continually interesting.
That’s not the only way Flanagan tests himself. There is more written dialogue (in messages to friends) than spoken and the whole film almost functions as a silent film. It requires a lot of Siegel (who also co-wrote the screenplay) to deliver a dialogue-free performance, but she carries the film well. Her muted screams are painfully effective, and not the glass-shattering cries the intruder is after.
His motivations are unclear beyond wanting to terrorise Maddie. He feeds on watching her struggle more than he gets a kick from physically hurting her, and that makes for a tense and poetic game of cat and mouse. There are no sexed-up teens to dispatch of first; instead, this is all “final girl” and an escalating battle of wits as Maddie starts to fight back.
Flanagan seems to have cornered the market in Netflix Original horror and for good reason. “Hush” is a snappy and smart little thriller that elevates the home invasion film, and “Gerald’s Game” is even better. His upcoming “The Haunting of Hill House” Original series is set to be something special.
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