Hush is the best horror film of 2016 so far
After breaking into the mainstream with the terrifying Oculus, Mike Flanagan returns to the low budget scares of his debut Absentia with the chilling Netflix film Hush. Co-written by and starring wife Kate Siegel, Hush is a stylishly designed and creepily played psychological horror that might just be the best of its genre since last year’s outstanding It Follows.
Siegel is excellent as a deaf writer who (in one of the film’s only clichés) lives in a secluded house in the woods, unaware that just outside the door, her best friend is being murdered by a serial killer wearing one of the creepiest masks since Michael Myers. Using her disability against her, the killer (who disappointingly removes his freaky mask, revealing indie star John Gallagher Jr.) traps and taunts her, leaving her with two options; kill or be killed.
While Hush has a somewhat familiar premise (a lonely cabin in the woods, a serial killer with no motive, a female protagonist who has to learn to fight back), it excels in the execution. Mike Flanagan is one of modern horror’s strongest directors, focused on filling audiences with dread rather than making them jump every few seconds. Hush isn’t the scariest film in the world, but the atmosphere is almost unbearable as the killer uses every advantage he can to psychologically torture Siegel.
Good horror films provided actual characters over cannon fodder, and co-writer Siegel clearly put a lot of effort into creating a great protagonist in Maddie, a frustrated writer who has been a deaf-mute since her teenage years; the character feels like a real human being, with flaws and quirks developed and explored in the brief opening section of the film. Most refreshingly, she isn’t the typical horror protagonist doing seemingly everything possible to wind up murdered. She’s logical, thinks her plans through, and often holds her own against the killer stalking her outside the house.
Telling the same story as cult 2013 slasher You’re Next in a more straightforward style, Hush is one of the classiest horror films of the last few years. Creepy and violent, but never cheap or gratuitous, Hush is the best horror film of the year so far, and proves Mike Flanagan is one of the finest genre directors around.
By Harry J. Ford
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