Following up his highly enjoyable haunted mirror movie Oculus, writer-director Mike Flanagan has crafted another similarly solid horror movie that also focuses on a determined heroine in a single house, yet feels like a totally different kind of film as well.
Hush, (which was similarly made through Jason Blum’s production company, yet was bought up and been released straight to Netflix) ditches any supernatural elements, and takes a more straightforward thriller premise. Author Madison “Maddie” Young (an impressive Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the film) lives alone in a cottage in the woods. For no apparent reason, one night she is stalked by a mysterious masked man who attempts to break into her home.
Sounds simple enough? The key difference is, Maddie’s deaf. Her assailant quickly deduces this and attempts to use it to his advantage, giving her a significantly tougher challenge to survive the night.
In keeping with that theme, Flanagan opens the film with an excellently edited close-up montage of everyday objects in Maddie’s home, emphasising the varying sounds they all produce. He then manages to establish our lead character via a conversation she has, primarily in sign language with her friendly neighbour Sarah.
Wasting no time at all, the amiable atmosphere evaporates as soon as Sarah sets out to leave, with the aforementioned masked maniac (John Gallagher Jr. a world away from his recent turn in 10 Cloverfield Lane) causing bloody mayhem outside while Maddie remains inside oblivious.
The majority of the movie is a kind-of standoff between the pair. The film remains mostly dialogue free, which helps it stand out from other domestic invasion movies. Flanagan maintains tension for a significant amount of time, creating a novel hybrid of home-invasion thriller and slasher horror elements that only let’s up when another character shows up. This is Sarah’s boyfriend and he’s just ridiculously gullible and dangerously naïve. In comparison with the smarter tactics the two leads employ against one another, his idiocy really shows.
Strong as most of Hush is, Flanagan can’t quite keep it up for the whole running time. It feels a bit like a short story adaptation that has about fifty minutes of good material stretched to eighty. Still, it cements Flanagan’s status as a very promising young genre filmmaker and furthers my interest in what he’s s going to do next, even if that is in fact Ouija 2.