Starring John Gallagher Jr, Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco
Listen Hush, hush Thought I heard this was a really good film
Mike Flanagan burst onto the horror scene with the brilliant independent piece Absentia, which remains one of my favourite movies in the genre – it's emotionally powerful, subtle and sinister throughout, and he's a director I've been watching out for ever since. So when Hush was announced to be arriving on Netflix, I was pretty excited to catch this one. Based on what sounded an interesting premise – a deaf writer stalked by a predatory killer – I really hoped that Flanagan would be able to again hit the heights of that debut feature.
I could not have been more wrong. And, to be honest, I should have known the moments the credits rolled – the Blumhouse logo appearing on screen is a personal guarantee for me of a movie that is going to be more than just bad, but immensely frustrating. The new 'go to' name in Hollywood horror has produced – for me – a succession of dumbed-down, idiotic, jumpscare-loaded, plot-tight movies that have done nothing to boost the horror scene but plenty to boost all involved's wallets. And, I'm afraid to say that even a director of Flanagan's talent is not immune to the Blumhouse effect.
And Hush is the epitome of everything Blumhouse does wrong film in, film out – the start is so promising, and looks so interesting, and then the whole thing descends into an unwatchable mess. Prior to Hush, Sinister was my benchmark of a horror film that burned a great core concept within the space of half an hour and degenerated into a cliche-ridden abomination. Now Hush can take that crown.
We begin with Maddie Young, a typically reclusive writer who lives out in the woods on her own and is struggling with her next book. Does any writer in the movies ever get any books written? Anyway, we're given a shockingly brief introduction to her before our masked killer arrives on the scene – although the mask doesn't last long before the killer removes it, so you suspect that was only there for a cool cover art/trailer image. Anyway, this unnamed, unconnected and heartily random individual discovers Maddie is deaf and decides to turn this into a game of some kind.
The first twenty minutes of this are good, which is the irony. The initial use of Maddie's deafness as a plot device – not seeing her friend trying to get help as the killer pursues her, the killer roaming around the house unnoticed taking photos of her – is promising and genuinely tense. And then?
Well, twenty minutes into this eighty minute snooze, Maddie sees the killer outside and so begins a game of cat and mouse that is about as scary and tense as an episode of Tom and Jerry – and in places is as ridiculous. Our killer is armed with a crossbow, which I am pretty sure would break through the windows of the house – I might be wrong – but decides to taunt her and 'have some fun', to paraphrase his own words. So generic killer 101 starts to torment her by lurking around the house, tapping on windows and doors, whatever seems to amuse him really. It's certainly not amusing for us – what could have been a taut thriller drags horribly, and is held back awfully but just how visually dark the whole thing is. I don't mean dark as in mean and brooding – I mean dark as in I can't actually see what's happening an awful lot of the time. Nor can I figure out what he wants to do at any given moment, nor what her plan for escape is. It's basically more than an hour of squinting trying to actually see what's what.
This one was an ordeal to watch, and not in the good way as per the very best of my beloved Film Gutter. It's got badly drawn characters – this kind of masked anonymous killer should have been consigned to the horror dungheap a long time ago, and equally it's hard to care much for our lead, even when she begins her 'hey, I can be courageous after all!' concluding comeback. The only other characters in the movie – neighbours John and Sarah – are frustratingly stupid in their inevitable deaths. The action is borderline nonsensical and very hard to follow, and any atmosphere is drained by long scenes of absolute silence and unwatchably shadowy visuals.
This one has really brought home one of my pet hates about horror – the thing is, I don't even mind bad horror. Some horror sets out to be deliberately bad, and achieves that with hilarious results. Some horror is obviously bad from the very get-go, be it in the shooting, the acting, the effects, and with that you can tell straight away and give up. What annoys me the most – and Blumhouse seem to do this without fail – is produce movies that look like they could be very good, and then abandon any effort after 20-30 minutes. Don't ask me what it is – the worst cynic in me says that they can't trust horror audiences to react to things that are tense and atmospheric, so that is substituted for the computer-game led trend of jumpscares. And character development? I mean, who ever needed that anyway? I'd rather just stay lousy and stay there than a movie throw away an interesting concept that somebody – anybody – could have done a better job with.
Honestly, I'll be keeping faith with Mike Flanagan, because Absentia was too good to be simply a flash in the pan and I hope Before I Wake will be a return to form. But this time around, I just think a very talented director has been Blumhoused.
RATING: 1/10. I've saved this one from 0/10 because the start was good, and that's all I can say. The last hour of this movie is atrocious, beyond atrocious, laden with every horror cliché imaginable and two characters going face-to-face that might as well have been cardboard cutouts. Maybe this kind of thing would have passed muster in the 70s, but seriously, as horror viewers we deserve better than this kind of slasher trash. Or maybe we don't, really, and that's why we keep getting it served to us. It's a deafening 1/10 and the less said about Hush the better.
Never done agree 100% with everything that he has said in his review. I would also like to point out the complete lack of knowledge of what injury does to a human being. Getting shot in either the leg or the leg or shoulder and being able to carry on as if nothing had happened is stretched to the limits with this film. And the sheer stupidly of the heroine really grates on this. She disarms the attacker and has the ability to put a crossbow bolt right into his head and she decides to run rather than finish him off. And this is after he has been kicked of a two story building without any damage at all. I really wanted to like this film but the stupidity burnt my eyes.