'Hush': A Movie Review
The movie opens with Maddie Young preparing a meal. Close-up shots entice not only our visual senses but our audible senses; her knife slamming down onto the cutting board, the familiar sizzle as she adds food to a frying pan. As the camera pans around, the sounds slowly fade out and we're left with nothing but soft white noise. This gives us our first glimpse into Maddie's silent world.
With the arrival of Maddie's neighbor, Sarah, we see that Maddie lives in a wooded area, seemingly far removed from city life and learn several key characteristics about Maddie. We learn that Maddie is a writer who has recently published a book, which Sarah raves about. Maddie was ill as a child and this illness is the reason Maddie can no longer hear. Later on, during a scene with Sarah's husband John, we learn that Maddie contracted meningitis as a teenager and because of this, she is not only deaf but also a mute; she can no longer speak. Maddie also tells Sarah that she has what she affectionately calls 'writers brain', where she sees multiple endings to her novels in her head that play out "like a frustrating movie." This is a key piece of information for a later scene.
When an unnamed man appears, he curiously watches Maddie through her sliding glass door. He taps on the glass. There is no response from Maddie. It doesn’t take him long to realize that his next victim is deaf and decides to play a little game of cat and mouse with her. He enters the house with ease, taking Maddie’s cell phone and taunts her with texts to her computer, photos of herself inside her home; walking around the living room and sitting on the couch.
Maddie, noticing that the once-closed door is now open, slowly moves to see outside, she comes face-to-face with the killer as he stands on the deck just steps away from the door, his face hidden behind a stocking cap and white mask. Once Maddie realizes she’s not alone she races to lock all of the doors and windows. With Maddie's cell phone in his possession, the killer cuts the power to the home, severing all means of communication. There are several failed attempts by Maddie to flee the home, each time she must retreat back into her home, trapping her within, while the killer torments her from outside.
Although Maddie is hearing impaired and cannot scream for help, putting her at a huge disadvantage against her attacker, she is far from a damsel in distress. She fights throughout the entire movie, going so far as slamming the killer’s fingers in a window sill and even stabbing him with the claw-end of a hammer. But that doesn’t mean she doesn't sustain her own fair share of pain at the hands of the killer in his continued attempts at death.
As the killer is attempting to enter the home, Maddie types a brief, but grim, note to her family on her computer, a farewell to her family, telling them that she “died fighting.” And fight she did, right up to the very end.
Main Cast / Characters
John Gallagher Jr
Behind The Scenes
Writer, Director, Editor
Blumhouse Production / Intrepid Pictures
The cast list is very small, with only five people who actually appear on screen, Maddie’s ex-boyfriend is just a picture on her FaceTime app, but the characters are all key and each all bring forth additional information about Maddie and her situation, without them, we may be left with more questions than answers. However, this is one movie where one character stands out for me. Sometimes we love to hate a character and I found myself loving to hate Gallagher's portrayal of the killer. He shows us that he can maintain the outward appearance of normality with his initial interaction with John, but shows us a more sinister, lack of feelings or empathy towards his victims that is bone chilling.
There isn't a whole lot of dialogue in the movie, just enough for the characters to get established, but this doesn’t leave the film lacking great quotes. Several things that John Gallagher Jr.’s character says to Maddie gave me literal goosebumps, for example, there’s a great screenshot from the movie that’s found all over the internet, “won’t tell. didn’t see face” is written on a glass door in lipstick, illuminated by a flashlight. This isn’t a spoken quote, but it’s still great.
However, the killer’s follow-up line after removing his mask and stocking cap in response to Maddie telling him she didn’t see his face, “You’ve seen it now, haven’t you” made me hold my breath and think, “oh crap.”
Another line from John Gallagher Jr., my absolute favorite, after he taunts her through the sliding glass door, “I can come in any time I want. I can get you any time I want. But I’m not going to. Not until it’s time. When you wish you were dead, that’s when I’ll come inside.”This line and Gallagher’s delivery gave me chills. Now we, as watchers, know that he’s in it for the kill, but now he’s going to make it a game for himself; the thrill of the hunt, “we can have some fun.”
I love heart-pounding thrillers like this. Gore in movies is okay, but for me, but if a movie has a plot I can actually imagine playing out in real life, I’m hooked. A movie that has me watching with bated breath will win me over faster than a straight-up slasher movie. And this movie had me hooked from the moment Sarah showed up banging on Maddie’s sliding glass door. I found myself holding my breath many times throughout the movie and thinking about the fact that she was making noises she most likely didn’t even realize she was making. I tensed my body as I tried to help her as she struggled with a weapon, winced as she tended to her wounds, and rubbed my arms during a scene that made my hair stand on end. And this didn’t change, even during the third viewing. Even though I knew what to expect, I knew the outcome of the scene, I still found myself reacting the same way as the first.
I love the details on how Maddie manages to navigate her silent world by showing us simple things like how she needs her smoke alarm to have a flashing light and to be extra loud so she can feel the vibration of the sound waves. She also uses those vibrations to feel the killers movements in one tension-filled scene.
This movie isn't all horror and non-stop action, they've also added a bit of humor which in my opinion, makes it just a bit more enjoyable. And the fact that it's not just one jump-scare after another, is great.
I really don't have much to nitpick about this movie. There were a few predictable parts, but every movie no matter the genre has some level of predictability.
I do wish the back cover of Maddie's novel was on screen just a bit longer because it provides a more in-depth backstory on her illness and why she chose to live a more secluded life.
Would I Recommend?
At the writing of this review, I have seen this film three times, and I have already recommended it to several. It has a great flow, I love the camera work, the writing is excellent and the two main characters and the way Kate Siegel and John Gallagher Jr. portray them, are superb.
On my scale of "Buy/Theater/Rent/Netflix", this one is most definitely in the buy category.
My Other Reviews
- 'Before I Wake' (2016) A Movie Review
My review of the supernatural thriller 'Before I Wake', a Netflix Original.
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