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Currently trending in Netflix's horror scene is a delightful little flick called Hush. Mike Flanagan's 2016 slasher has come across my path a few times over the past year, and I vehemently avoided it, like I do most shadows lurking in my oft-empty house. I wish I had done a bit more research before turning it away, I always know a Blumhouse film is sure to enthrall me.
A small ensemble of five characters perfectly fills out the cast for this brief jaunt into the life of a terrorized, deaf author. We of course have our heroine, Maddie; her neighbor who loves her book, Sarah; Maddie's sister who lives far away but has FaceTime, Max; the somehow always late husband to Sarah, John; oh, and how could we forget the serial killer with no motivation, No-name McGee. Almost No-face McGee too, but he corrects that little identity flaw early on in the film.
Alright, so first and foremost, what did I think? Did the movie accomplish its goals? Yes, I think so. I definitely won't be moving to a cabin in the woods any time soon. I'll turn my loud music down so I don't go deaf. I'll probably lock my bullet-proof glass doors from here on out. While the movie is not without its flaws, horror movies are inherently flawed I believe, it was definitely worth the watch, and certainly kept me thrilled; four out of five. I forget, do I use number ratings?
Great, that's covered, into the knitty gritty. I'll knock one major concern out: the movie plays on the silence factor, so there's not a lot of music, but the one or two times the score raised its viper-like head, it was to excellent effect.
Now, I will not call the deaf girl stupid, because she's obviously not, but she does make some classic horror movie mistakes. We'll start with early on in the movie when she ignores her sister pointing out that there was someone else in the house. "Oh it's just the cat." You mean the cat that is literally never in your home except to eat apparently? Okay, sure. Follow this up with several attempts to escape that are either blatantly wasted (lookin' at you tip-toe across the roof sequence) or missed murder opportunities (she could very easily have ambushed McGee from the crawlspace). But then, then there is the greatest sin, the stupid heroine who distracts the hero because she HAS to be the heroine. John has everything under control when he does finally show up, until Maddie distracts a knife right into his neck.
Speaking of John, the man is slow and less than helpful. Yes, I say he has things under control, but it takes him too long to get there. So long in fact, that by this time the crippled, deaf woman has time to stumble down the stairs and distract him. John quickly identifies that something is amiss about the cop (read: serial killer) who approaches him on Maddie's blood-spattered porch. However, even after his wife's earring drops out of the killer's pocket, John still takes his sweet time luring the smaller man around to the foot of the porch. Only to ultimately die, he still puts up a good fight though, and Noname McGee even admits he was at a huge disadvantage.
You go into Hush no doubt all too aware of the associated tropes. Maddie has to win, she is the heroine with the disadvantage. If an object makes it on stage it will most likely play a role. Everything has to get much grimmer before it can get better. For these reasons, when Sarah points out how loud and annoying Maddie's fire alarm is, and we then see said fire alarm on the counter in easy reach for the remainder of the movie, we know Maddie's deafness to the ear piercing alarm will be key. We also get to see her rummage through a cabinet and drop some kind of chemical spray on the ground, probably wasp spray or something, so when we see Maddie collapse next to it late in the movie, we know what time it is.
Hush is not beyond foreshadowing the use of mental traits either. Much like the fire alarm, early in the movie we hear—or rather see—Maddie tell her friend about what her mother called 'writer's brain,' which is the ability to peer through the fabric of her plot and see all of the possible endings to a scenario. However, this trait isn't important as far as Maddie's writing is concerned, who cares what the text of her stories are? What's important about it is her ability to assess her own situation.
Allow me to lapse, briefly, into complaining about a movie distant both in time and genre. The final 'Twilight' movie (beware spoilers ahead) seems to end in a huge, much-anticipated, battle between the Cullen's and their allies (those are the "good vampires"), and the vampire overlords whose title I forgot (those are the "bad vampires"). As the battle comes to what seems to be a close, an epic bloody confrontation that kills so many main characters in one brief period that it would drive George R.R. Martin to tears, it is revealed that the entire battle was a vision shared between the psychic who can see the future, and the big bad who can read people's minds. As he realizes the battle will mark the end of his Volturi (that's what they're called!), the big bad calls his dogs (sorry, vampires, dogs are on the other team) off and retreats.
Much in the same way, Maddie suffers a brief fictional death at the hands of her harasser through the means of writer's brain. As her best friend's husband is stabbed to death in her front yard, he mutters that Maddie must run (she can read lips, this has been pointed out multiple times in the film), but as she tries to run the killer (of course) catches up with her limping, helpless self, and smashes her face in. Oh boy, the heroine loses, except that it was all just her writer's brain foretelling the ending.
All of that aside, the movie ends with a stunning combat scene where Maddie finally shows Noface McGee what she's made of, and the cops show up. Yay!
I'll give every movie a lot of flack and a lot praise, I'm not good at saying everything was bad or everything was good, and I'm not good at assigning a number to movies. But hey, all of those good things, all of that excellent movie structure, and the fact that there was a significant lack of stupid heroine dialogue? Brilliant. Four out of five all day for you Hush.