Hush is a 2016 American slasher film directed and edited by Mike Flanagan, starring Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the film with Flanagan. The film co-stars John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, and Emilia "Emma" Graves. It was jointly produced by Trevor Macy through Intrepid Pictures and Jason Blum through Blumhouse Productions.
|Directed by||Mike Flanagan|
|Edited by||Mike Flanagan|
|Music by||The Newton Brothers|
The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016, and was released by Netflix on April 8, 2016. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances and atmosphere.
Deaf-mute horror author Maddie Young lost her abilities to hear and speak after contracting bacterial meningitis at age 13. The disease caused permanent hearing loss and temporary vocal cord paresis which became permanent after unsuccessful surgery. Hoping to advance her writing career following her publication of Midnight Mass and receiving international critical acclaim, Maddie leaves New York City and lives an isolated life in the woods with her cat. Her friend Sarah visits her one evening to return a copy of her book. Later that night, a masked killer with a crossbow attacks Sarah and chases her to Maddie's house. A bloodied Sarah bangs on the door shouting for help; she goes unnoticed by Maddie and the killer stabs Sarah to death.
The killer quickly deduces that Maddie is deaf and decides to try and make her another victim. He sneaks into her house and steals her phone, which he then uses to take pictures of her and send them to her. Maddie realizes she is being stalked and tries to call the police, but the killer cuts the power and punctures the tires on her car to prevent escape. Maddie writes "won't tell, didn't see a face, boyfriend coming home" on the glass panel door with her lipstick. The killer responds by taking off his mask and revealing his face and, upon learning she can lip read, taunting her with the threat of waiting to break in. He then taunts her with Sarah's corpse. Maddie uses her car keys to trigger her car alarm in an attempt to distract the killer so she can retrieve Sarah's phone from her pocket, but is caught by him before she can grab it and quickly locks herself back inside.
While attempting to escape through the second-story window, Maddie is shot in the leg by the killer with a crossbow bolt, but she manages to knock him off the roof and steal the weapon. Sarah's boyfriend, John, arrives at Maddie's house looking for Sarah. The killer poses as a police officer responding to a call, but John grows suspicious of him. He plans to attack the killer from behind with a rock, but Maddie distracts him by banging on the window, allowing the killer to stab him in the neck. As John bleeds to death, he puts the killer in a chokehold to buy Maddie enough time to escape, but she realizes that she will either be caught or bleed to death - her only chance for survival is to kill her assailant.
Outside, the killer threatens Maddie's cat with his knife, but she shoots him in the shoulder with the crossbow. As Maddie retreats into the house, the killer slams the sliding door on her wrist and crushes her hand beneath his boot. He allows Maddie to pull her mangled hand inside and close and lock the door. When he threatens to enter the house, Maddie writes "do it, coward" on the door with her own blood. As the killer begins bashing the door in with a tire iron, Maddie uses her laptop to type up a description of the man and a message to her family. She then locks herself in her bathroom, armed with a knife.
Failing to break through the door, the killer opts to crash through the bathroom skylight. Maddie does not notice him until he inadvertently breathes against her neck. She narrowly avoids his attack and stabs him in the knee. He follows her into the kitchen, where she blasts his face with insecticide and uses her visual smoke alarm to disorient him. He begins strangling her, but she finally kills him when she stabs him in the neck with a corkscrew. Maddie retrieves her cell phone from the man's body and dials 9-1-1. As she sits on her porch steps while the police approach her, Maddie pets her cat and smiles.
Nothing was known about the project until September 2015, when it was revealed at a buyers' screening which occurred at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. It was revealed Mike Flanagan had directed and written the film, along with his wife Kate Siegel who also stars in it.
On making the main character a deaf mute, Flanagan had said it originated from him wanting to do a movie "without dialogue". The possibility of making the film entirely silent was briefly considered, but was soon abandoned when it was realized that building tension with this limitation would be "impossible"  Flanagan also noted that the target audience would not have been used to silent films and, as such, would "seek out every kind of audio stimulus anywhere else in the environment" or simply choose to not watch the film at all.
The script itself consisted largely of scene directions, which Flanagan and Siegel developed by acting out in their own house. The fact that so much of the script was based around Flanagan and Siegel's own house proved problematic for filming, as when they went to shoot the film in Alabama, they could not find a house similar enough to theirs and had to significantly alter the film's script. Flanagan also found challenges in the single location and had to plan the cinematography to keep the film interesting to the audience, especially given the mute nature of the protagonist; to this end, Flanagan used a Steadicam to follow Siegel's every move, along with a boom mic and a spotter, to make the movement more "dynamic". The resulting audio for these scenes could not be used and had to be redone in post, with Flanagan noting that the audio initially "sounded like a herd of elephants."
To represent Maddie's world, various ambient sounds were used, such as the sound of ultrasound machines. Flanagan did not want to use pure silence for these scenes, as he still felt it would make viewers even more aware of their surrounding and take them out of the experience. As a result of the aforementioned camera set in, Siegel had to ADR her own breath into the final film. The film's soundtrack was composed by The Newton Brothers.
The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016. Prior to the premiere, Netflix acquired worldwide distribution rights to the film, which it released on April 8.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Hush navigates the bloody waters of home invasion thrillers and incisive slashers for a contemporary horror puree." At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from seven critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Benjamin Lee of The Guardian said that Hush "offers ingenious suspense" and awarded it four out of five stars. Geoff Burkshire of Variety, though criticizing the film's third act, called it "one of the more inspired concoctions to emerge from the busy Blumhouse horror-thriller assembly line in recent years." Michael Gingold of Fangoria gave the film 3.5/4 stars, calling it "a good old-fashioned truly scary movie". Jasef Wisener of TVOvermind gave the film a 4.7/5, noting that "Thanks to the performances from its two leads, Hush succeeds in almost every aspect and delivers one of the best horror films in modern history." Richard Newby of the website Audiences Everywhere called the film "a modern slasher movie classic that's not to be missed."
Stephen King wrote about the film on April 20, 2016, saying, "How good is Hush? Up there with Halloween and, even more, Wait Until Dark. White knuckle time. On Netflix." Filmmaker William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, also commented on the film, saying "HUSH is a great horror film...on Netflix. Terrifying."
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- @WilliamFriedkin (5 December 2016). ""HUSH is a great horror film...on Netflix. Terrifying."" (Tweet) – via Twitter.