Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers : Mike Flanagan & Kate Siegal
Hush is a movie that knows exactly what it is. It literally opens on an isolated cabin in the woods, and while it plays firmly within its genre, it does introduce some novel ideas. The main character Maddie (Kate Siegel) is deaf, which raises the stakes of her vulnerability, but when faced with the actual bogeyman (John Gallagher Jnr) she chooses not to be a victim.
Maddie is a writer who has trouble finishing. She sees the multiple ways a story could end and has difficulty settling on the one perfect solution. Perhaps she enjoyed the ‘choose your own adventure’ books too much as a child, but while it is frustrating in her work, it’s a handy device to help her visualise the terrible choices her character could make in her real life horror story.
At a certain point we learn that as well as being deaf, Maddie is also mute. Missing a scream from her acting arsenal, Siegal has to do what she can with her Jolie-esque face in what is essentially a silent movie performance. The loss of these two senses has not created a proportional improvement in those that remain. Maddie's peripheral vision in particular seems poor and there is no hint of any mystical sixth sense. She has to believe only what she sees.
Despite looking good, this is clearly a movie with a low budget with a small cast so when the nice, chatty neighbour turns up, it’s reasonable to be concerned for her short- term safety. Sure enough, once the foundations of character and setting have been laid out, we see the panicked and bloody neighbour turn up at the glass front door.
But before Maddie sees the bad guy, he sees her. He’s at first surprised to see that someone is home, but works it out quickly enough. Once the action starts, the Director occasionally turns off the sound, so we don’t just see from her POV, we also hear her silent world. It’s an effective technique that heightens the tension but also reminds us that Maddie has no idea of how much noise she is making when absolute silence is required.