The Hush movie premiere went down on Netflix over the weekend, and it’s not a stretch to say this is the best horror film of 2016 thus far.
Furthermore, with how few great horror films are made each year, it’s unlikely that anything unseats it before 2017.
Before getting into the heart of this thing, it should be known there will be minor spoilers ahead.
An obvious update to Wait Until Dark, which told the tale of a blind woman being terrorized by a trio of thugs, this Mike Flanagan-directed, Kate Siegel-scripted thriller places a deaf author (Siegel) in peril.
Living in a secluded home with only one set of neighbors nearby, Maddie seems like the easiest target imaginable. That’s at least what the masked man hovering outside her door believes.
After a jolting introduction, the masked man starts to make light of Maddie’s hearing, seeing how many liberties he can take with this seemingly helpless woman.
By the time he makes his presence known, Flanagan has done such a fine job building suspense with the isolated setting that you don’t even care whether the stalker is wearing his creepy mask or not.
And that’s one point where the Hush movie differs from many others of its kind. Flanagan takes an opportunity to unmask his creepy killer relatively early in the film.
It is a decision that proves to be a wise one as it nudges the film out of the oft-maligned stalk-and-slash genre and turns it into an effective character-driven suspense thriller.
The Hush movie villain, rather than being some two-dimensional villain, becomes a flesh-and-blood character made all the more menacing by his limitations and authenticity.
The film starts to feel less safe because there is a strong sense that this sort of thing could easily happen in the real world.
Holding it all together is Siegel, who benefits from having written the script and hatched the idea on her own with a little help from Flanagan. The character, like Siegel, is even a writer, so she’s in her element every moment of the runtime, and it shows.
You like this character, and you want to see her escape the night.
As a final showdown between her and her pursuer becomes all-the-more imminent, there is a sense that she is capable of handling herself but not in a silly Haywire-with-Gina Carano sort of way.
Yes, Siegel’s Maddie is self-sufficient, but she is also limited by her hearing, her size, and her lack of experience with weaponry, a plot point that Flanagan and Siegel used to add an extra layer of authenticity.
This girl could very well get hurt or killed, and it’s a realization that makes the film unsettling as viewers hurtle towards the conclusion.
A full review of the Hush movie experience would not be complete without delving a little into the character of Maddie’s stalker.
Billed simply as “Man” in the credits, this unidentified figure comes to life through the efforts of John Gallagher, Jr., who plays this kind of role for what it is in real life.
The stalker is more punk than tough guy. He looks for victims of opportunity, and what he lacks in size and fighting skill, he makes up for through an utter contempt for human decency.
This guy has no shame. He simply kills for the enjoyment, and he’ll prey on any weakness he can to satiate that drive.
Couple that with the fact that the Hush movie never betrays the fact that Maddie is an easy target, and you’ve got a suspenseful shocker where anything can, and often does, happen.
There’s a reason Hush movie ratings on Netflix have it at 4.5 out of 5 stars. Serve this one up the first chance you get.
[Image via Hush movie screen grab]