There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2020 Netflix Halloween Countdown
As crazy as it is to believe, it is already October 2020—it has been a bizarre year, for sure. For the past three years, I have been spending October watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will include a table that ranks these movies from best to worst. This year will be my fourth year doing this, and I plan on publishing a new review each day. Some will be from movies that I have reviewed before, but there will be some new movies on here is well. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
Maddie (Katie Siegel) is an up-and-coming young author. She has released one book which has achieved moderate success and she is about to start writing her next. Maddie lives in a relatively isolated house in the middle of the woods. She has one neighbor that she is pretty close with, but other than that, there is no one around. Oh, and more thing about Maddie, she is deaf.
One evening a psycho shows up in a mask and with a crossbow. He sees Maddie working through her window, and thus has found his next victim. He decides to surprise her by tapping on her glass window (hoping to scare her before killing her). The man quickly realizes that Maddie is deaf. He then decides to have some fun before killing her.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Genre (-4pts)
Katie Siegel (+5pts)
The Man (+5pts)
Dumb Decisions (-4pts)
Pro: Sound (+6pts)
The most appealing part of this movie was its premise. We have all seen home invasion movies before. Character is home alone, and intruder is trying to come in with bad intentions. This movie takes that very simple premise and flips it on its head by asking “what if the main character was deaf”?
How would said main character figure out that there is an intruder? How would they know that they are in danger? The antagonist can literally smash a window, or kick in a door, that is literally right behind Maddie and she would have no idea. This significantly decreases her chance of survival which makes this movie so compelling. It is easy to take sound and hearing for granted. This movie explores the concept that while hearing can be viewed as a non-essential luxury, it is one of our bodies’ most effective methods of informing us when we are in danger.
Con: The Genre (-4pts)
This movie had a fantastic premise. The deaf victim was a compelling concept to see explored, but at about the beginning of the second act, this movie goes in a different direction. At the beginning of the second act (still relatively early in the movie), we get a scene where the man is standing on the front steps showing Maddie that he is holding her phone. This scene is in the trailer, but I did not expect it to happen so early in the movie. From there, it turns into a mildly intense movie about defending one’s own house against someone who means them harm. This was mildly entertaining but the creepy, thrilling, suspenseful aspect of the movie was gone once Maddie knew what was going on, and once it was gone the movie ends up being very predictable.
Pro: Katie Siegel (+5pts)
For the most part, this movie was carried by the lead actress, Katie Siegel. Her performance will not stand out as an incredible dramatic performance, but she does a great job of making this relatively simple plot feel intense. She carries the tone of the movie, as she is mostly acting by herself through the majority of it (with her co-star being under a mask). Her performance will allow viewers to feel the panic and the weight of the situation that Maddie is in. Again, while you are watching the movie, Katie’s performance will not really stand out, but that is what I think makes it so great. She does not steal the show or overdo it, but will keep audiences engaged once the creepy tone of the story is gone. Katie is enough to hold audiences attention through the relatively simple and predictable story that this movie turns into.
Con: Maddie (-4pts)
While I thought Katie Siegel did a decent job in this role, the character of Maddie suffered from some lazy writing. She is a deaf author, but because she is the only real protagonist in the movie, she has to hold her own against a deranged killer. Maddie had to do this for at least the majority of the movie and it becomes a bit unbelievable when you take a step back and look at what this character has gone through. However, there are a few moments where the lack of realism is distracting.
She treats her own wounds, and powers through those injuries. Maddie is somehow able to hold her own against someone who supposedly hunts people for sport, and she does so as if she is in a war zone. What bothered me about this was that the writers never used her hearing impairment to her advantage. Instead, the character is not only a deaf author, but she is also Rambo. The worst part is, this seemed to be turned off and on whenever it was convenient for the writers to do so. In some scenes she has a really smart survival instinct, in others, this is turned off. Which way it went depended entirely on what the writers needed in order to move the plot along.
Pro: The Man (+5pts)
I was relieved when we got very little character development for the man in this movie. Too often, especially in horror movies today, the writers seem to think that the viewers need an elaborate origin story that explains who the antagonist is and why they are doing what they are doing. Too often, this origin story ruins the antagonist by shedding light on the monster in the dark. We have heard this saying since we were kids “people fear what they do not understand“.
With that in mind, why is it so hard for writers to understand this concept? Are there some antagonists that benefit from extensive character development? Yes, but there are many that benefit from having the backstory left untold. In Hush, the writers never explain why the man is doing what he is doing aside from telling us that he likes to hunt people for sport.
What is his name? How did his parents treat him as a child? Why does he like hunting and killing people? Who cares? None of these questions are answered because they do not need to be. This character worked so well because the audience does not understand him.
Con: Dumb Decisions (-4pts)
Similarly to the writers resorting to lazy writing by having Maddie be a surprise badass, the writers also resorted to lazy writing by having characters also make dumb decisions in order to move the story in the desired direction. The writers had two characters at point A and needed them to get to point B. In this scenario, they can not get to point B with a naturally progressing story that respects the two characters and their intelligence. With that, the writers had forced themselves into a predicament.
What do the writers do in a scenario like that? Just have the man climb up to a patiently waiting Maddie, place the crossbow at her feet and then proceed to climb the rest of the way up (allowing Maddie to get the crossbow). This behavior does not make sense for someone who supposedly hunts people. It is just one example, but there are plenty more examples from both characters throughout the story.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
Hush was a movie with a very fascinating premise and a strong setup, but was unable maintain the fascinating nature of its premise throughout the entire story. The movie loses something once Maddie figures out what is going on. What started as a creepy thriller with the compelling twist of the main character being deaf, ends up turning into more of a mildly intense action movie with little to no plot and an under-utilized concept of the main character being deaf. There is basically two movies in one: the movie before Maddie discovers what is going on (the movie people want to see), and the movie after she learns what is going on.
Katie Siegel does a great job of maintaining viewer interest through her performance. I was also pleasantly surprised that the filmmakers did not explain the antagonist. The man was just a crazy person and that was really all he needed to be. The movie is far from perfect and periodically resorts to lazy writing but it was a mildly entertaining movie. It did not live up to its potential, but it is not a bad movie to watch if you are trying to get into the Halloween spirit.
Train to Busan
In the Tall Grass
The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Hold the Dark
Would You Rather
The Open House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House