Review: On surface, Netflix-streamed Hush seems like a banal Blumhouse home-invasion thriller, which might only recycle good ol’ formulas. However, Oculus’ director, Mike Flanagan, flips out the low expectation with high-energized effective thriller with tense premise.
Written by himself and his wife, Kate Siegel – who also stars in this film, Hush straightforwardly brings audiences into the crime scene. After fast-introducing Maddie (Siegel), a deaf author living in a remote house in the woods as she desperately finds the most suitable ending for her upcoming novel; Hush introduces us to Sarah, her caring neighbor who frequently visits her. Not long after that, we recognize Sarah as a victim of a masked killer (John Gallagher, Jr. from 10 Cloverfield Lane), who brutally killed her in front of Maddie’s house without the host ever hearing nor noticing.Image via themoviedb.org
When Maddie notices the situation she’s in, Hush enters its hide-and-seek mode; proves that its unique premise really pays off; and finally gives an effective 80-minute thrill. Putting a deaf but resourceful protagonist to solely interact with a nihilistic killer (not once was his motivation is mentioned or revealed) is proven to be an original fun jet-coaster of idea.
Differently, Flanagan equips his protagonist with only instincts and luck. Maddie is not a femme fatale and she has a lot of limitation, but she’s a quick-witted one. She’s not a damsel in distress, but she’s in a situation to be.
Flanagan lets audiences witnessing from a partially knowing third-person perspective; as if we’re there with those two opposing characters. We know what the killer does and what surrounds him as clear as we know what’s with Maddie, but we know that she might not hear anything or notice anything, and that’s frustrating. That’s how Flanagan manipulates audiences into following his design of terror, which undoubtedly effective.
Who would have thought that Hush would be a very effective thriller under 90 minutes? It breaks through the banalities of home invasion thriller and turns it into a griping one under the stark direction of Mike Flanagan. And it’s only his first out of three films planned this year.