Palpably tense, downright captivating & endlessly thrilling, Hush begins like a fresh breathe of life in the home-invasion slasher subgenre of horror, and had all the necessary ingredients to become a modern slasher masterpiece but, thanks to some poor decisions made by the filmmakers, it isn’t one. And it really is a shame because there was so much up for grabs plus it did many things right too.
The story of Hush follows a young, deaf & mute writer who lives a solitary life in the woods and is working on her next book. But her quiet & peaceful life is disrupted when a masked killer appears at her door and, after learning about her disability, takes advantage of the situation and torments her all night. But as this cat-n-mouse game nears its conclusion, our writer realises that there is only one way to end this ordeal.
Co-written, edited & directed by Mike Flanagan, the home-invasion story that Hush packs in isn’t new by any means but the decision to turn its protagonist deaf & mute does add an interesting spin to it. Sure it may feel like a gimmick but in all honesty, it helps raise the stakes by an extent. Flanagan’s direction is brilliant for the most part as he keeps the suspenseful vibe alive but when it was time to make some bold decisions, he chose to compromise.
There were numerous things the director could’ve done differently that would’ve benefited this thriller immensely, and made the ride all the more engrossing. Some possible alternatives include, narrating the story like a silent thriller, using sound such as ambient noises but no dialogues, or never letting the killer take off his mask or eliminating the unnecessary exposition that ends up ruining few moments. It would’ve been a challenge but it also would’ve allowed some creativity to come into play.
Kate Siegel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Flanagan, also plays our deaf & mute protagonist, and does a really good job at it. I don’t know if Siegel playing a handicap woman has anything to do with it but her character is really likeable, and it isn’t difficult to get behind her when things go south. The controlled camerawork, apt lighting & fitting colour tones greatly enhance the tone n feel of the story, Editing never lets the tension seep out of the equation, and the background score does amplify its mood at times.
On an overall scale, Hush had the opportunities to take its genre in a different direction and set a new bar for modern home-invasion thrillers in the process but it settles for much less than what it was capable of. The film is still a taut, compelling & edge-of-the-seat experience that will satisfy majority of its viewers but due to a few shortcomings, which were totally avoidable, it just falls short of joining the ranks of the greatest examples of its genre. I actually enjoyed what this psychological horror had in store for me but I still can’t stop picturing the masterpiece it just missed out on being.