By Missy Henry
We can all agree that Netflix is pretty fantastic, right? At only eight dollars a month, Netflix is more than just affordable; it brings a whole new meaning to binge watching and streaming. One of the best features of Netflix, though, would be that it has its own original movies that you can’t find anywhere else. One example would be Hush. Written by Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel and directed by Mike Flanagan, Hush brings a more realistic view to the horror genre.
The film starts out simple enough; Maddie (Kate Siegel) is making herself dinner in her highly secluded cabin home. Her friend Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), who is one of her only neighbors, comes over for a night of hanging out and talking about how much she loves Maddie’s new book. During their interaction, it is made clear that Maddie is deaf, as they are signing to each other in order to communicate. Sarah invites Maddie to her home for a movie, but Maddie refuses because she has to finish writing her new book. This isn’t the last the audience has seen of Sarah though. As Maddie cleans up her dinner, we see Sarah banging on the door and screaming out for help. It isn’t long until her attacker (John Gallagher Jr.) stabs her multiple times and throws her body off to the side once he is sure she’s dead. Maddie goes about doing the dishes as if nothing had happened. The attacker is both confused and intrigued by Maddie, thus provoking him to test her. It is with ease that he enters her house and steals her phone. However, after doing so, he leaves without a trace, leaving the audience to think that he wants to toy with Maddie. As she is writing on her computer, her attacker starts sending her photos of herself to show her that she’s being watched. Thus begins the game of cat and mouse. Maddie is quick on her feet to lock all doors and windows. Unfortunately she isn’t quick enough to call 911 before her attacker cuts the power and thus the internet connection. Since Maddie can’t call for help on her phone, and her computer has no connection, she is essentially trapped. The film goes on to show Maddie’s many attempts at defeating her attacker. Since he has the advantage of hearing, Maddie must find new and creative ways to fight back.
One of the main aspects that makes this movie so great is that the characters are believable. Maddie is not one of those classic horror movie girls who falls over nothing and acts stupid throughout the entire film. Rather, Maddie is smart and knows how to use her resources. As soon as she makes sure that all of the doors and windows are locked, she goes for her weapons. She grabs a knife in preparation, which is smart, but then she steps it up and grabs a hammer as well. Most characters in horror films won’t even think to find one weapon, let alone two. Maddie is also pretty courageous. In one scene during the film, Maddie decides to trick her attacker into thinking that she is hiding in the house, but instead, she sneaks out and takes cover under her porch. Her attacker has no idea that she’s right outside with him. Maddie tries to stay clever, but makes a bad choice by making a run for it. Her attacker attempts to shoot her with his crossbow, but Maddie is able to make it back inside. With this scene being as suspenseful as it is, this movie would also fall under the genre of a thriller.
Maddie isn’t the only smart one in this movie though. Her attacker, who is not named, clearly struggles with trying to get to her. It is made clear to the audience that Maddie is not his first, second, or even third victim, so it is safe to say that this guy knows and enjoys what he’s doing, even though the audience never gets to find out why. He also isn’t quick to flee either. About half way through the film, Sarah’s boyfriend John (Michael Trucco) comes to check on Maddie and see if Sarah is there with her. The attacker is quick on his feet when running into John. He pretends to be a police officer responding to a call, thus gaining John’s trust. Even though he doesn’t know the exactly protocol, nor is he dressed as an officer, the attacker plays out this scene with ease and sounds realistic when he pretends to call for backup.
With the characters being this well thought out, the actors who play them really had to step up their game. Siegel’s performance was spot on and even though she had to play a deaf and mute character, her emotions were conveyed thoroughly. Being unable to speak, Siegel had to use significant facial expressions and movements in order to show her fear and pain. Her performance was so well done that I felt more empathy for her than I would have if I had heard her screaming. When Sarah gets brutally murdered and screams out for help, I felt her fear slightly, but when Maddie encounters him, I felt as if I was in her position because she was able to show so much pain and emotion without making a sound. Siegel also remembered to convey that she is not invincible. Without giving too much away, I will say that Maddie does get hurt in the movie and when this happens, Siegel takes her time in showing the pain, shock, and fear that takes over. She doesn’t just get up and walk away as if nothing had happened. Unfortunately, Gallagher does just that on more than one occasion. It is because of this that I believe that his acting was not as excellent as Siegel’s. With that being said, his portrayal of a sick serial killer was well done with a nonchalant and slightly playful attitude.
Once again I will say that this movie was realistic, but this time it is because of the camera angles and cinematography. One of the biggest hopes, I think, for many directors would be to make the audience feel as if they are in the movie alongside the character. I believe that James Kniest, as the head of cinematography, did just that. During the most intense scenes, the camera zooms in on Maddie’s face and as she exhales a deep breath, everything goes quiet as if the audience is being brought into her head and into her world of silence. By doing this, I believe that the audience is able to connect with Maddie on a better level and make them see just how frightening her situation is. The special effects are on point with this film as well. The use of blood in this movie is not overdone; rather, it is used tastefully and practically. There is enough to show that what is happening is serious, but not enough to make this movie a strict gore fest.
Hush is more than just a thrilling horror movie. It’s a movie that reminds us that our disabilities do not define our abilities and that we have to be smart even in horrific situations. The entire plotline, characters, and acting abilities were for the majority of the part spectacular and the cinematography that went along with it was not only clever, but also thought provoking. I would recommend Hush to anyone and everyone because it is a genuinely solid horror film. Some people may be inclined to stay away from the horror genre because it contains jump scares and poor plotlines, however Hush’s plotline is rational and not a single jump scare is used. This movie deserves an A in the grade book. Anyone looking for a suspenseful and realistic horror film, look no further, Hush is it.
Final Score: A
Missy Henry is a third-year secondary education major who loves horror and suspense films.