Hush – 2016

Director Mike Flanagan
Screenplay Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Starring Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco, John Gallagher Jr., Samantha Sloyan

Mike Flanagan’s been on something of a roll lately. Anyone who doesn’t know his work, do a search in the upper right corner of this page under his name and you’ll find many positive reviews. Somehow, in the midst of all of his success this last decade, I neglected to watch Hush, which is a film that shows how he and his wife Kate Siegel need little more than a house of many windows with a killer lurking outside to scare the viewer sufficiently.

Siegal is Maddie Young, a deaf mute writer whose last book is a success. She’s working on the followup, living in a remote cabin with some nice neighbors (Sloyan and Trucco). We get the distinct impression the move away is due to a failed relationship as much as anything. This will come into focus more later.

After her attempt at making dinner ends up with the fire alarm going off, she says goodbye to her neighbor Sarah (Sloyan) and goes back to work. Some time later, while she is discarding the remnants of dinner, we see Sarah murdered while trying to get Maddie’s attention through the door to the kitchen. Maddie misses it entirely, but the killer (Gallagher Jr.) notices her. For reasons of sport, he decides not to break any of the numerous windows around the house and just end her right there. That is his first mistake.

The cat and mouse and back and forth between the two take up the rest of the film. The story is essentially two acts: before she knows she’s in danger and then after. The mood presented by lighting and occasional bouts with silence help heighten the tension to an almost impossible degree. She tries to tell her pursuer that her boyfriend is on his way, he knows better and shows her the phone he stole from her when he snuck in earlier. Now with no phone, no power and no internet, she has nowhere to go.

There is a real concern about the effect a loss of blood can have on a body. That this has never been thought of as a plot point is astounding. We get to see the thought process of both the hunted as well her hunter. It’s a dynamic that is tough to pull off, but they do it well.

There is an opportunity presented in the last 40 minutes that gives the viewer hope that is dashed soon as it materializes. Only to be presented with new hope.

This is a film that brings an intensity that is believable. Best yet, writers Siegel and Flanagan don’t waste time on senseless exposition. If they say it or show it, it is smartly representative of a future for one or both characters.

Hush is a definite must for those who enjoy effective scares with minimum carnage. That doesn’t mean there is none. Just remember to turn out the lights and draw all of the shades.

(**** out of *****)

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