Friday, April 15, 2016


   Hush takes your average home invasion concept and adds a twist- the woman, all alone in her house? She's mute and deaf. If that was where the movie stopped innovating, we still would've gotten a fairly standard flick. But despite working with basic themes, the movie is absolutely greater than the sum of it's parts. It's lean, stylish, and brutal. What could've been a short throwaway premise turned into a hair-raising survival thriller. I was quite impressed with Hush, and unlike most movies it dominated my attention span entirely. It's not an amazing movie, but it's a damn sight better than most other entries in the same genre.

   Pick any horror sub genre and you'll find it awash with hundreds of clones. A possession movie? Here's 500 of them. A slasher flick? 800. The home invasion genre might not be pulling down those numbers, but I've seen so damn many of them that it would've taken nothing for Hush to blend into that sea of memories and mediocrity. Instead, it makes good on it's basic promise of it's premise and illustrates how scary it'd be if someone was trying to break into your home... and you couldn't hear anything. The constant need to keep your eyes on them, knowing that a creaky floorboard isn't going to alert you to their presence. Damn.

   In fact, there's a brilliantly scary bit in the movie where the killer is casually walking around behind our protagonist, Maddie, knowing that she's entirely unaware that he's in the house. What's even better is that it seems very much like the filmmakers did their research. My Dad is hard of hearing, and while he's not absolutely deaf, and while you can almost forget that he has any hearing issues because he's so verbal and responsive, I personally know that he responds more to vibrations than loud sounds. Songs with deep bass appeal to him more than vocal-heavy songs. Flashing lights draw his attention, whereas your average smoke alarm would not. Things like that. A lesser movie would've jury rigged the deafness itself to fit the necessities of the plot.

   I've seen movies that get basic disabilities like that wrong. Movies that misunderstand blindness, or a brain disorder, and even deafness. Hush is effective because it gets it right, and on that merit alone I was pleased. Then it took this concept and did terrifying things with it. I want to start listing specific instances right now, and tell you about all the moments in the movie that 'wowed' me, but that's not what I do. I want you to experience those moments for yourself, not see them coming because you read about them in my review. If you're already convinced you need to see Hush- go now. It's on Netflix. You won't regret it.

   Another thing I was absolutely enamored with was the sound design in the movie. When necessarily, the movie would let us 'hear' from Maddie's point of view; a thick and overwhelming silence. Yet it also places special emphasis on sound effects and cues in the score. Everything seemed to work together to create a very stunning aural experience. Of course, the requisite percussion smashes and melodic inspirational cue are all here, but they're not overdone. I don't normally find myself so preoccupied with the sound aspect of a movie, but it was front and center in Hush. Very unique. Good stuff.

   I had high hopes going in from excellent word of mouth, and more or less it lived up to the hype. Hush uses Maddie's deafness as a part of her character, and by extension a part of the story. It's never a gimmick, and that's no small feat. Nothing about this movie is. Although I do feel that some choices made rather backfired (i.e. the killer taking off his mask for good at one point), and I quickly found myself wishing that the movie was starkly dialog-less or completely silent, as per how Maddie would hear things, but despite all that and some other minor flaws, I was still entertained throughout.

   There's a constant and palpable feeling of dread, a surprisingly effective villain, a refreshingly uncomplicated plot, and plenty of raw, visceral, suspense. I enjoyed Hush as one enjoys a nerve grating, violent, graphic, bloody, survival thriller. My muscles were tense, and I was frequently on the edge of my seat. If the movie would've had me relaxed and reaching for snacks... it wouldn't have been doing it's job- and if nothing else, Hush gets the job done.

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