Before he hit the big time with his haunting Netflix hit, Mike Flanagan also delivered a really good slasher movie.…. NOTE: This review was written in 2016 for HorrorCultFims
While there are those who think horror is dying a slow death what with Found Footage and endless remakes killing the genre, if you look closely, you will see underneath the mess, there are some very talented directors doing some mighty fine work.
Long time readers of HCF will know how much of a fan we are of Ti West’s contribution over the years to horror, but there is also another you can add to that list….Mike Flanagan, whose last three films have lit up the genre to a degree that it ends any debate that horror and creativity are no more.
From his brilliant debut Absentia to 2014’s more mainstream hit Oculus, Flanagan has shown he is one of the main directors guaranteed to bring you a great film and his new offering Hush, which Netflix bought the rights and added it to its ever growing list, is another horror that you will have a great time in watching.
Hush does not bring anything new to the table and its not as original and mind bending as Oculus, but what it does well is bring the basics to what we know of the Slasher and Home Invasion genre to the fore and uses to maximum effect. It helps that the cast which mostly consists of two people, Kate Siegel who in real life is married to Flanagan and co-wrote the film, is immense in the lead role, while John Gallagher, Jr who was last seen in the excellent 10 Cloverfield Lane, is just as good as the psychopath
Siegel plays Maddie a deaf writer who is currently trying to finish off her new novel, at a secluded house in the middle of the woods, with only her cat called Bitch and an occasional neighbour (Samantha Sloyan) dropping by for company. Its a perfect environment for a masked murderous psycho to turn up announced and start playing a few games, but while this killer is just as silent and deadly as Michael Myers, he did not expect to find a target with a strong will to live as Maddie.
Gallagher Jr is brilliant as the Myers clone, not many actors can play a masked killer with such force, even more so when he commits a slasher no go and takes off his mask to reveal his face, and yet somehow still keep the menacing prowess that the film desperately needs.
Using the plot vice of deafness is the most powerful tool this film needs as most of the running time, it plays like a silent movie. Flanagan brilliantly uses the music score as a cue to startle us when needed. First its quiet so we share the world Maddie is in, then BOOM….when its needed. Insidious used this base to cement its status as a leading horror franchise, but Flanagan uses this tried and tested trick to a much better effect.
The first killing is the most brutal and sets up the horror well, with Gallagher butchering his poor victim, right outside the back door window, in clear view of Maddie, who with her back turned and going about her business, is totally oblivious to what is happening Another scene in which Maddie finally realises the danger she is in, thanks to a laptop and her phone, is also spine tingling and by then as a horror fan you are sold by the plot and really invested in the characters which is always a good thing for any horror.
That’s not to say Hush is perfect! There is one scene that had groans coming from my mouth and lowers the quality somewhat, because lets face it, we really don’t want to see a “day-dream” used in any plot function.
Basically Hush is like the beginning of Scream but played out for 80 minutes, but unlike Drew Barrymore who had the typical 90’s stereotype for a female character trapped in her home, Maddie is a woman born in this generation and after the likes of You’re Next, there is no chance she is going to sit back and accept to play this little game.
Hush is not the best home invasion horror (that title still belongs to Funny Games), or is it the best slasher film you will ever see, it is still a solid entry that is perfectly suited for Saturday night viewing.
Look forward to your fourth horror Mr Flanagan!