Hush: Movie Review

hush - poster

Synopsis:
A deaf, mute female author lives alone in a fairly secluded house in the woods.  A man in a creepy mask shows up, kills her neighbor and terrorizes her.

My thoughts:
This seems like a pretty standard home invasion movie, but I gave it a shot because it was directed by Mike Flanagan.  I wasn’t overly fond of Absentia, but I loved Oculus so I was looking forward to what Flangan would bring to the table within the home invasion subgenre.  He did not disappoint.

hush - maddie & man
Having a deaf, mute protagonist certainly allowed for a fresh take.  Some of the standard slasher moves went out the window here.  There is a scene where the killer takes his knife and scrapes it against the window.  That nails-on-chalkboard effect didn’t faze Maggie.  I like to think that the killer had a lot of other tricks up his sleeve that he wasn’t able to use here.  “I’ll start clanging some cans together outside…okay, okay.  Can’t use that.  What about knocking really loudly on the door…nope.  Nope nope nope.”

hush - maddie
Maggie’s lack of hearing did put the killer at a bit of a disadvantage, although it’s really his own fault.  He saw a deaf woman living alone and assumed she would be an easy kill.  He toyed with her a little more than he should have.  In fact, at one point the killer is in the house with Maggie before she even knows he’s out there, and he doesn’t kill her.  He takes his opportunity to get into her head.  When he could have been using that opportunity to get into her head…WITH A KNIFE.  (I’m so sorry.)

hush - man
Granted, we don’t really see his method outside of his approach with Maggie, so maybe this is just how he operates with people trapped in their houses, but I got the impression that he was so confident of being able to kill her easily that he wasn’t as careful as he usually would be.  “I can come in at any time,” he tells her early on.  But he doesn’t.  He taunts her.  He walks around the house, stalking her in plain sight.  He gives Maggie enough time to get over her initial shock and devise a plan.  Initially to stay secure and survive, then to escape, and ultimately to fight back.

hush - maddie 2
This is a small movie.  If you count the brief FaceTime call with Maggie’s sister, there are only 5 people in the movie, but the majority of the movie involves Maggie and the killer.  At 81 minutes, it’s a short movie, but it’s such a small movie that it could easily have become boring in lesser hands.  On its face, this movie is simply, “Man walks around house while woman hides inside,” for roughly an hour.  But it never really dragged.  There were a number of tense moments, but it wasn’t always tense.  Even in those down moments, it was never boring.

hush - maddie at computer
By the way, the character of the killer is simply “Man” in the credits.  I love this.  It’s impossible to see things like that and not think of “?” (Frankenstein) or “The Shape” (Halloween).  There’s something about an unnamed character in a horror movie that makes me happy.
We also have no idea where the killer came from.  We don’t know how long he has been killing.  We don’t know why he chose to use a crossbow.  We don’t know anything about him, and I really don’t care.  I don’t need to know what led him to this point: all I need to know is that he wants to kill.

hush - man with phone
I had a few issues, but they’re nit-picky ones.  The killer wears a creepy mask in the beginning, but he gets rid of it 15 minutes in.  There’s a good reason for this, and the actor did a good job, but I wish we would have seen that mask for a little while longer.
During a call with her sister, Maggie says (well, signs) that she has “writer’s brain.”  Basically, when she writes, she looks at every situation and sees how it could possibly end.  Kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure.  Because of this, she has a hard time finishing her books, because she can’t stop writing alternate endings.  They play with this a bit towards the end of the movie, and it’s one of my favorite scenes.  I wish they would have done this a little more throughout the movie.  Perhaps more liberal use would lead to it not being as effective, but I would have liked to have seen this used a little more than it was.

hush - maddie 4
In the end, those were minor issues that didn’t detract from the rest of the movie.  I really enjoyed it and I definitely see myself revisiting this one quite often.

Rating: 4.5/5

Notable actors: Michael Trucco

Home Sweet Home

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Home Sweet Home is one of those rare horror movies that you happen upon on Netflix that you can actually finish watching. I had stumbled upon this film, perhaps a year ago, and something reminded me of it recently. I decided to revisit it and see if it was as good as I had remembered.

Clocking in at a lean 1 hour and 20 minutes, this is an interesting take on everyone’s favorite; the home invasion film. A man wearing gloves, who is only filmed from the chin down, enters a well maintained home and begins to go through everything while the owners are out. He leaves only to return with a bag full of goodies; tools, weapons, a coverall to protect his clothing, Vaseline and a super creepy mask. What’s the Vaseline for? The unknown man spreads it over his hair and eyebrows; this is when you know that this guy is serious and seriously scary. He has thought of everything; even making sure not one single hair falls from his head.

The couple who live in the house return home from a date and go about their business unaware of the uninvited guest. Initially, the slow pace of the movie is good for building tension and then it becomes, well, slow. While I appreciate the wife’s intention to keep the marriage lively, it felt like a ploy to get our female lead into stockings and a cheerleader uniform.

The intruder keeps the couple separated and monitors them via baby monitors. See, that way they can hear each other being tortured. There is one particular scene where the wife pleads to see her husband and the killer walks very slowly away, takes a razor to the husband’s face and returns to show the scalp to the wife. Had I not already seen something like this in The Devil’s Rejects, I would have been impressed.

As the wife continues to evade the killer, the suspense slowly becomes not so suspenseful. Although, not completely shocked by the ending, I still enjoyed it; it was a solid idea. In fact, this movie is full of solid ideas that just never seem to grab you the way the filmmaker had intended. Much like The Purge, this could have been a truly unsettling home invasion experience, but it just seemed to lose it’s way. Unfortunately, on a second viewing, I was underwhelmed by Home Sweet Home.

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