Get ready to grip the edge of your seat.

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Last week, the thriller Hush was released to Netflix.  Directed by Mike FlanaganHush was co-written by him and Kate Siegel, who also stars in the film.  Siegel performs opposite of only four more actors: Samantha Sloyan, Emma Graves, Michael Trucco, and John Gallagher Jr.  Hush was produced by Intrepid Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, and premiered at SXSW in March.

Hush is, hands down, the best slasher-thriller you will see all year.  Or possibly ever.

Let’s start with the plot.  Our protagonist, Maddie, is an author living alone in a remote area.  She has two neighbors that we know of– Sarah and John, a couple living together.  When Maddie was a teenager, she contracted bacterial meningitis.  She survived, but the disease rendered her deaf and mute.

A friendship between Maddie and Sarah is established.  Sarah is learning American Sign Language and has just finished reading Maddie’s debut novel.  It’s revealed that Maddie is hard at work on a second book, and can’t decide on an ending.  Later, as Maddie is cooking dinner, Sarah frantically pounds on the glass door, trying, in vain, to get her friend’s attention.  She is then brutally murdered by a masked assailant.

Maddie misses the entire episode and carries on with her night.

The killer realizes that Maddie is deaf and decides to make her his next target.  A sick and twisted game of cat-and-mouse ensues, with Maddie at an obvious disadvantage.

The most striking aspect of Hush is that the story is entirely about Maddie.  That should be a given, considering that she’s the protagonist, but let’s think about other slasher movies: A Nightmare on Elm StreetHalloweenFriday the 13th– the villains in those films are given complex backstories and clear motivations, making their movies about them, rather than the protagonists. Hush eschews any background information about the killer.  Even when he unmasks himself early in the film, his motive is unknown and his name is never given, and why should they be? The film isn’t about him; it’s about Maddie and Maddie’s survival.

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Survival is the main theme in Hush, and it is established to be a driving and recurring force in Maddie’s life.  She survived meningitis, she’s surviving living in a world that is dependent on sound and verbal communication as a deaf woman, and now she’s tasked with surviving an attack from a sadistic psychopath.

And Maddie is hellbent on surviving, despite the obstacles that are thrown at her: the killer steals her phone, shuts down her power, and thus her WiFi, so she can’t dial 911. He’s bigger than her, faster, stronger, and is armed with knives and a crossbow.

But Maddie is smart.  More than smart, she’s driven and willing to do whatever it takes to live.  And even if she doesn’t survive the attack, she’s not going down without a fight.

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The creation of Maddie’s character is an absolute testament to Siegel and Flanagan’s creative prowess.  Not only did they write a female protagonist in a slasher film as totally competent and fierce, but by making her mute, they cleverly and subtly subverted the “scream queen” trope.

Another subversion of the slasher genre? The violence in Hush isn’t sexualized.  It’s brutal, bloody, and visceral, but there is a total absence of sexual overtones.

The film also addresses other elements of slasher movies.  The killer isn’t a supernatural boogeyman and he doesn’t possess superhuman strength.  He can, and does, become injured which affects how he stalks and attacks Maddie.  When Maddie gets wounded– and boy, does she sustain a lot of serious wounds– the ramifications are clearly, and terrifyingly, shown: she’s losing blood, which is effecting her balance, and her focus, and her eyesight.

Kate Siegel delivers an outstanding performance as Maddie, flawlessly executing every moment of vulnerability, terror, and determination to survive.  John Gallagher Jr. is equally impressive as the killer, and gives a terrifyingly human edge to a psychopath.  The two play off each other in a such a believable way, that at times, it’s hard to remember that it’s just a movie.

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If you’ve been craving a slasher film, or really any film of any genre, that has a compelling plot, features a badass female protagonist, and is totally devoid of clichés, Hush should be your first pick.  Your adrenaline will spike and you’ll be nervously looking out your windows for the rest of your life.  If you don’t have Netflix, now is the perfect time to start that 30-day trial.

'Hush' is a Screaming Hit
  • Excellent acting
  • Compelling story
  • Does not fall into clichés
  • Very little dialogue– may be off-putting for some
9.6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)