Hush (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan


Maddie is a deaf writer living in an isolated cabin in the woods.  One night there is a murderous murderer on the loose.  He kills Maddie’s friend Sarah as Sarah sprints up to Maddie’s house, pleading for help before being shot in the back with an arrow.

Maddie, only feet away inside the home, can’t hear a thing, of course.

The killer registers this and begins to toy with Maddie.  He haunts her house from the outside while she rushes around to hide from him before ultimately fighting back.  For some reason the killer, a perfectly able looking young man, struggles to get inside the home and get Maddie.  At first you think he’s playing mind games with her, stalking her from all angles.  Then, as the story goes on and the killer becomes more desperate, you realize he simply can’t get inside the house.  It’s a little silly.

Here’s a brief plot summary: Maddie is a deaf writer who misses her ex-boyfriend, Craig.  The killer stalks her, she pleads with him through lipstick-smeared writing on the window.  Games are played, she injures him, he injures her, she tries to escape, she runs back inside the house, her friend’s boyfriend makes an appearance and is killed despite being the most competent character.  Then Maddie kills the killer.

It’s the simplest of stories, and it’s filmed nicely with a solid premise.  At the same time, this could’ve made for a nice 20 minute film, not the 87 minutes of heavy breathing it currently takes up.

It’s hard to have a real problem with a movie, because I chose to watch this.  Hell, I even enjoyed making fun of it.  These types of movies serve a purpose, and I had a great time live-commenting it like I’m Mel Kiper at the NFL Draft.

Still, it just didn’t need to exist.  In reviewing The Gallows, earlier, I mentioned how I get scared easily by horror films.  This one didn’t scare me.  It’s very bland and uninspired.

There’s a particular scene in which Maddie escapes the house only to be caught by the murderous murderer.  He shoots her, I believe, and she falls to the ground.  Then, in the blink of an eye he’s on top of her and crushing her head in with a brick.  It’s brutal and quick.  That was the first time I thought, “whoa, this movie subverted my expectations” and I was a little impressed.  My friends and I, full of quips throughout the film, finally fell silent.  I think we were all surprised.

Then the movie returns to Maddie, safely in the kitchen.  It was all in her head, just to reinforce the idea that she can’t escape, and it was terrible.

See, that would have been a brave decision, to kill the main character in the middle of the film, and it could’ve worked.  Psycho (1960) did the same thing.  If you haven’t seen Psycho, you’ve at least seen the shower scene.  That’s fairly early in the film.  The rest of the story is about the people who are trying to track down that main character, Marion.

In Hush, we’ve established Craig, Maddie’s ex-boyfriend or ex-husband.  He’s out there, he exists.  She’s already tried to call or FaceTime him multiple times.  If she dies, maybe he comes looking for her.  We’ve seen how inept the killer is at trying to put away a deaf woman who, let’s be honest, he shouldn’t have any trouble with.  Maybe now he’s dealing with a vengeful ex.  It’s not the most intriguing story in the world, but it’s some kind of plot development.

Instead Craig hardly exists and the killer is just a killer who likes to kill.

At the end of the film Maddie is covered in blood, she’s killed the killer, her hand is shattered, her thigh has been pierced by an arrow and she sits on the front porch petting her white cat.  The camera pushes in on her face and a small smile begins to develop.  I can only take this to mean she now has a thirst for blood.  Or maybe she knows she must win back Craig.  Or maybe she has her next book idea.  Who knows.

This film was directed by Mike Flanagan and co-written by Flanagan and the lead actress, Kate Siegel, who is also his wife.

Some final notes – I wanted to know more about the killer.  Like, does he kill often?  He’s clearly a hunter, so does he plan out his hunting events, say every couple of months?  Does he kill just one person at a time?  Is killing his favorite thing?  If it is, then is being killed the way he always wanted to go?  Like, I love espresso, so would dying by espresso be a good way to go out?  That sounds terrible, actually.  Maybe being smothered by puppies.  So was getting stabbed in the neck by a corkscrew like being smothered by puppies for the murderous murderer?  These things we will never now.

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