Having gone down a storm since appearing on Netflix – even Stephen King took to Twitter to sing its praises, being as bold to compare it to John Carpenter’s Halloween – Hush could end up being one of this year’s biggest sleeper hits. With a clever concept, intelligent ideas and nail-biting tension, it’s easy to see why most have taken to it so well; however, it’s pros are perfectly balanced with cons, creating a mixed bag of a film that doesn’t quite live up to its reputation.
The problem with the film, to an extent, is that its premise has so much promise. The central idea to take the blueprint of a home invasion thriller and scribble all over it, placing a deaf person into the middle of the story as the central hero, opens up a world of opportunity to create something new and exciting.
For the film’s first third, things look promising. The film’s director and co-writer, Mike Flanagan, constructs a brilliant set-up which not only introduces us to a strong female character – the ‘prey’ of the film’s psychotic killer – but which has a lot of fun in playing with the central idea.
Sound obviously plays an important part to the film – at least it does in the first twenty-minutes – and the sound design is remarkable. At a time where the majority of horror films work toward the same quiet, quiet, bang scares, Flanagan appears to be taking a step back from the format. Instead, he puts his focus into heightening each and every sound that we hear on screen; whether that be the crunching sound of somebody having ther hands broken, or the sound of a knife stabbing flesh.
We’re given an idea of what it might be like to be deaf when we see events through the eyes of our hero, and the script does a great job of intergrating the importance of modern day technology to those who suffer from lack of hearing. All of this makes for compelling viewing but, unfortunately, things do start to unravel pretty quickly as soon as the masked killer arrives on the scene.
When the focus becomes solely on the home invasion, some poor creative decisions are made and cracks in its concept begin to form. Whilst there are some moments of undeniable high-tension, the hard work that was put into the film’s first act is almost undone in its final hour. Not only do we get a psychotic killer who likes to crack jokes, but the threat never feels real when, for the majority of the time, the killer seems content in just walking in circles around the house.
As the plot progresses, Maddie, the central heroine, doesn’t live up to the potential of her character either. As someone who is said to have a writer’s brain and who appears to be of great intelligence, I never fully believed her to be as clever or as strong as I would have liked her to be. Yes, she does fight back and it is glorious when she does so, but this happens far too little and far too late for me to have been fully invested in her character.
The biggest issue I have is that by the end of the film it doesn’t really doesn’t matter whether the lead character is deaf or not, as the unique take that the film has on the genre all but disappears. It is a shame that Hush loses its way, because it has all the makings to have been something truly special. There is still plenty to like about the film, but the fact that is could have been so much more means that it is an unequivocal disappointment.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com