(The costume designer needs a quick applause before we continue.)
“Hush” is a 2016 film that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March and has made its way onto Netflix. This film introduces a young author who is a reclusive. She has been deaf since the age of 13 and has compensated for it ever since with the enjoyment of writing. She lives in the woods, which is a deep character in and of itself in this narrative. One day she decides to cook herself a meal, which we learn isn’t her thing, but invites a friend over for company. The friend praises her writing. When her friend leaves a mysterious masked killer stops by without her knowing. This is the basic foundation to this story.
What I respect about this film, first and foremost is the fact that the guys behind the camera didn’t rely on the cliché jump scares. This is a psychological thriller, one that is carried through the thoughts of our protagonist, similar to the horror film “The Gift,” in that it’s a confined narrative that explores human nature and the instability of it. I definitely enjoyed the cinematography. They took advantage of the environment. I watched an interview of the director explaining how he (Mike Flanagan) and Kate Siegel (the star actress and screenwriter along side Flanagan) spent many days walking around the environment, imagining different scenarios and events. You can tell. The work paid off. You could see the characters’ minds working through their every move. You didn’t know what was going to happen most of the time, we were merely passengers on this ride. The score is magnificent, it is used wisely and precisely at the right moments. When the woman would become rattled the right sounds were commenced to introduce the feeling of fear.
Along with the wonderful performance of Kate Siegel, I would like to give a moment to praise John Gallagher Jr.. This man is tremendous. I’ve seen three films this year starring him and he is not afraid at all of the spotlight. This man shines in it and substantially improves with every film. In all three films I’ve seen him in he’s played different roles. He is playing the right cards for sure. Too many actors and actresses get caught up doing one shtick and it can get old real quick.
There is one complaint I have regarding the film (of course, because what else would I be regarding.), and that is it’s predictable, particularly the final act. Yes, the last act is well acted, very brutal, cinematically well done, but nonetheless predictable. Yes, it was neat how all the details came flooding back into important variables for the finale, but they were glaring signs that anyone could have seen. They went the predictable route really. Without spoiling anything, it’s tough, but I’ll just leave it at that.
So beyond this point is spoilers. This goes in depth with the things I did enjoy particularly and expands on a particular symbol that I thought was neat. What I want to discuss is the enemies in our life. With respect to this narrative, there are tons of antagonists. Human nature, the woods, human senses, a conscience, etc. There is plenty. The young writer is experiencing writer’s block. She is unable to finish the story she is writing. The many voices that are put on paper have now surrounded her. They terrorize her in every moment. Her life is now put on the line. She is now the story. She is living in a prototype. A mechanism to push her boundaries. Even through the skulking, the hiding, she can’t escape the past. She can’t escape the now. The authoritarian is the future. It is the inevitable that she can’t see. When she struggles with grabbing a hold of it, her vision blurs. Fencing with your thoughts constricts your capability. Your visions become an incoherent imagined youthful correspondence to misunderstanding. You become fear. You act upon reaction. Without thought, though, you are worthless because you are fragile. The impolitic dreams that venture into the unrealistic conspiracy. That right now isn’t the most important. Understanding the most prevalent case of destruction before you isn’t a case to be reckoned with, might be a case of all mankind to look into. We all suffer with blindness without even realizing it. I wonder if the case to be reckoned with is the insight we bargain with. The insight we forget and bury, then sell it oddly enough in the form of a dismal painting. We all want the best case scenario, but we can’t always expect it.
So, there’s plenty more. I deeply enjoyed this film. When, I am able to delve that deep into it, it’s obvious. I can see a bright future for this director. I would like to see this duo of filmmakers, that is: Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel develop other films. This film wasn’t pushing the envelope or anything but what it sets out to do, it did well. They seem like a dedicated bunch. They are willing to put in the work, have a great touch on how to build sufficient tension. This film was simple but you know what? I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I am tired of watching these lackluster horror flicks that are filled with dull characters, cliche stories, missed opportunities. If we could enthrall the mindset of this film and many of the overlooked films out there it would be glorious. Imagine a creative Hollywood. Nevertheless, watch this film and go support the overlooked films out there that deserve some of your attention. Let’s light this flame and spread it. No, I am not a pyromaniac, I just believe it is the right message to send.