Hush – Review (*** 1/2)

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Mike Flanagan (Oculus) returns with an entertaining-if-limited chamber piece, a clever, well-acted exercise in suspense that ably distinguishes itself from its genre brethren.

Deaf writer Maddie (Flanagan’s wife Kate Siegel) lives in a remote house out in the woods, when she finds herself targeted by a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) who keenly toys with her disability.

Though the premise could potentially end up gimmicky but empty, Flanagan does a superb job reminding us of the sounds we all take for granted, aided by some smart sound mixing and editing to emphasise every little nuance that Maddie is missing, both in her daily life and when terror strikes.

Much like the recent Ukranian film The Tribe, we’re also offered no subtitles for Maddie’s sign language, and in fact long stretches of the film take place wordlessly, in turn boiling the more familiar cat-and-mouse game to its rawest elements.

Much of the reason why Hush really works, though, is Siegel’s stellar lead performance; she’s a gutsy, resourceful protagonist and therefore easy to root for, all the more so considering her added vulnerability. The brief moments we hear Maddie speak to herself as she plots a way out of her situation are a clever means to visualise and verbalise her thoughts without seeing overly clumsy or shoehorned.

All in all, the beginning, middle and end aren’t too surprising, but the overall execution makes for a novel twist on the home invasion formula. It’s fun seeing the killer toy with his victim in off-kilter ways specific to her condition, generating a totally different type of tension at the same time.

It dispenses with a ton of cliches along the way (aside from one irritating third-act fake-out), and at only 80 minutes in length, manages to be both taut and economic when facing the fairly limited nature of its premise; much longer and it would probably feel overly repetitious. In closing, Hush continues to earmark Flanagan as a sure talent to watch.

*** 1/2

Hush is available now on VOD

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