A movie doesn’t necessarily require an abundance of plot in order to generate ample doses of thrills, chills, and suspense — and the new horror flick Hush proves this theory early, often, and in very satisfying fashion. The story can be described in one brief sentence — a tenacious psycho stalks a deaf woman who lives alone in an isolated country home — but it’s more than a little impressive how director Mike Flanagan (Absentia) and co-writer/lead actress Kate Siegel (of Mr. Flanagan’s surprisingly effective haunted mirror flick Oculus) manage to wring so much juicy suspense out of such a straightforward premise.
Ms. Siegel plays a deaf yet calmly independent novelist whose evening is interrupted by a crazed killer. After a quick but crafty delivery of character development and just enough back-story to provide logical payoffs once all hell breaks loose, Hush settles into a consistently intense groove as poor Maddie does all she can to stay one step ahead of a killer who is not only smarter than the average madman, but is also rather proficient with a crossbow and a hunting knife. There are also two friendly neighbors and a pesky housecat in the mix, but for the most part Hush is single-mindedly focused on the interplay between a seasoned stalker and a young woman who certainly seems to be helpless prey — but gradually comes to prove the opposite, and how.
Much like the classic 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark, Hush not only finds several clever ways for its heroine to overcome her physical handicap under the most terrifying conditions imaginable, but it also manages to bring the viewer into the experience through clever use of creative editing, strong acting, and (especially) some very nifty sound design. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Siegel contributes a fantastic lead performance, that John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane) makes for a resoundingly effective villain, or that the ominous musical score provides a perfect background for all the cat & mouse craziness.
Clocking in at a lean 82 minutes, Hush is most definitely one of those rainy night thrillers that works a whole lot better if you have a few extra people around to enjoy all the scrapes, escapes, and escalating tension. Flanagan and company also pull off an impressive balance between old-fashioned suspense and full-bore, blood-spattered horror. So while it’s certainly not the most plot-heavy scary tale you’ll ever see, what Hush “lacks” in wheel-spinning subplots and extraneous characters, it more than makes up for in cool, clever, and eminently enjoyable intensity.
4 deceptively dangerous burritos out of 5
Hush premiered on Netflix on April 8, which was Friday. Queue it up!
Image Credit: Blumhouse Productions