I’ve watched a multitude of survivalist films, and for me that term doesn’t only apply to the horror genre, but can apply to all genres of film: Everything from THETEXASCHAIN SAWMASSACRE to APOCALYPTO to even the animated film TOYSTORY3. So I know the gimmicks, I know every trope, but HUSH has actually come up with something I’ve never seen before. The main character in HUSH is a deaf/ mute! Brilliance! Nothing makes me happier than a bit of originality in a film style normally filled with clichés.
Kate Siegel plays Maddie, the deaf/mute protagonist of HUSH brilliantly. She is a strong independent woman and she is also a writer. Having Maddie be a writer living in an isolated area seems like something out of a Stephen King novel. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, so this is high praise from me. The movie has barely started and I’m already in love with it! I also love Maddie’s neighbor Sarah (Samantha Sloyan). She’s so cute and friendly, and I love that she is teaching herself sign language to better communicate with Maddie. Their bond seems genuine, unforced.
As Sarah leaves, Maddie keeps getting texts and face time notifications from her ex-boyfriend Craig, but she refuses to answer. Get the picture Craig, she’s just not that into you. This comes into play later as Maddie is having a face time conversation (she can read lips) with her sister Emilia (Emma Graves). Unbeknownst to Maddie, there is a psychopath (John Gallagher Jr.) hunting the woods outside her home, and watching her every move.
Holy shit, the killer brutally shoots Sarah with a cross bow and then continues to stab her repeatedly right outside Maddie’s door. Sarah is screaming for Maddie’s help, but since she is deaf, Maddie is unaware of the whole incident. Amazing! The killer could be right out of YOU’RENEXT or THESTRANGERS, and the use of a cross bow has me thinking of THEGUEST. All great movies, and all great psychos. The lack of a soundtrack, and sound in general, makes HUSH even more terrifying. Iv’e seen this technique used before, but not done with such deliberate purpose. It comes across as very smart and chilling!
Once the killer has made his presence known to Maddie, it’s clear that he is absolutely getting off on the fact of her hearing loss, and thinking of her as easy prey. He cuts off the electricity, steals her cell phone, flattens the tires on her car. What a great psycho! Covering all his bases while he toys with her. He even uses Sarah’s dead body to knock on the front door. Usually shit like that doesn’t bother me, but for some reason it really gave me goose bumps.
Maddie makes sure that all the doors and windows are locked, and tries to unsuccessfully flee from the house. I’m getting a great humorless HOMEALONE vibe. Between the darkness of the film, the majority of it taking place at night, and the isolation, there are some great nods to STRAWDOGS and ASSAULTON PRECINCT 13.
The cat and mouse third act is very intense. It comes across as being very French, a less mean spirited INSIDE, if you will. It just grabs you, shakes you, and gives you a goddamn good ride! I went into HUSH with no expectations and was handed a very cool, edge of my seat thrill ride, and a survivalist film with an original angle. As intense as HUSH is, it can be appreciated be a wide audience. This is a film that deserved a theatrical release, and it’s a crime that it didn’t get one.
Jeremy Lowe (a.k.a, Germ T. Ripper) is a Chicago punk rock mainstay who has been the front man for bands The Rotten Fruits, Modern Day Rippers, Brickwall Vultures, and The Short-Timers. He is also a co-founder of Sexy Baby Records. Before writing for Daily Grindhouse, he wrote for the Splatterhouse 7 blog. You can contact him on Twitter as @rottengerm77