A deaf writer is trying to finish her next novel. In order to help herself focus, she moves into a secluded house in the woods. One seemingly normal night, the unthinkable happens. A maniac in a mask begins to terrorize the writer. If she can’t find a way to escape, she might not live to see another day.
This was a film with a thrilling plot and some shocking scenes. While the idea of a woman with some kind of impairment being stalked by a psychopath has been done before, I appreciated the attempts at originality in how this film was made. One unique aspect that made this film stand out was the decision by the filmmaker to intermittently take away all sound from the film. This allowed the audience to experience intense moments the way the main character would. I also appreciated that, after the initial shock of the situation, the female lead wasn’t a helpless damsel in distress. She was a strong survivor that pushed through whatever was thrown at her. It would have been easy for the plot to have a defenseless main character, especially since she was deaf, so the simple fact the film went against that grain made it more interesting.
One aspect of the plot that bothered me a bit had to do with the villain of the story. The character himself was fine. He was cool, calculating, psychotic, and clearly enjoyed the suffering he put his victims through. My issue with him had to do with the mask. When you first see this madman he is wearing a terrifying white mask. As we have learned from many slasher films, masks give an anonymity that makes the villain more frightening. If you can’t see their face it makes it more difficult to tell what they are thinking or what they are capable of. It also make the villain seem less human, and therefore more threatening. This film chose to unmask the villain very early on in the film. While I can appreciate that this was likely an attempt to stand out from other thrillers involving masked men, it immediately made him seem less threatening. It was almost as if he went from being a menacing, mysterious evil presence lurking in the shadows to a creepy ex-boyfriend that can’t take a hint.
The star of the film, Kate Siegel (Oculus), did a fantastic job portraying the deaf writer, Maddie. When you see an actor or actress in a role where they do not speak, the way they emote is incredibly important. Siegel definitely succeeded in showing what her character was going through with facial expressions and body language. What I also found quite impressive was her ability to not react to the sounds going on around her. This is obviously an important trait of a deaf character. There would be loud noises happening feet from Siegel’s character, and she wouldn’t even flinch or make the slightest indication she could hear what was happening. John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, Newsroom) was also great as the man terrorizing Maddie. As I mentioned before, he wasn’t quite as frightening as you expect a character like this to be, but that was more to do with the loss of the mask than his acting abilities. In fact, just like when I saw him in 10 Cloverfield Lane, I didn’t even recognize him in this film. Gallagher has an incredible ability to immerse himself in a character to the point that I don’t even recognize him.
Hush is an intense film that makes some attempts at re-imagining your typical thriller, but it is a film with its flaws. There are parts that made the film quite unique, such as the total loss of sound at certain scenes and how the filmmakers chose to show Maddie’s internal thoughts. On the other hand, I believe the unmasking happened a bit too early in the film. It made the film lose some of its intensity early on and made scenes that could have been scary fall a bit flat. Looking past the flaws, Hush was still enjoyable to watch and had moments that made me gasp. Viewers that have a certain level of empathy will likely enjoy this film more than others.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10