Hush (2016) – Mike Flanagan

Home invasion stories are not my jam. I’ve never cared for it, and I’ve yet to be entertained by one. But going through Mike Flanagan’s filmography, his third film plants itself firmly into a territory that usually doesn’t do much for me.

Co-witten with his partner, Kate Siegel, who also stars, the film follows Maddie (Siegel) a deaf-mute author, who is struggling to finish her second book (her first is seen, and will delight Flanagan fans. It’s Midnight Mass. The glimpse we are afforded of the blurb on the back sounds very much like the Netflix series it would become, and there is a discussion about characters in the novel that we know show up in the series). She lives on her own in a house in the woods, has the occasional visit from a neighbor, Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), and keeps a cat as company.

In typical Flanagan fashion we learn about Maddie not only through her interactions with Sarah, but with her sister (Emma Graves), revealing faults, worries, and eventually, information to be used against her.

Because this night isn’t going to be an easy one for her.

Told over a rapid-fire hour and twenty minutes, that doesn’t let up until the final frame, Maddie finds herself confronted with a masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.). He knows she’s alone, he’s cut the power and the internet. It’s just her and him, and he threatens her with the fact that he can come in and take her anytime he wants.

Maddie forces herself to rise to the task, and look for a way to flip the script on the intruder. She’s a writer, she just has to think of a creative way out of the situation.

But the man is going to be stalking the grounds, armed with a crossbow, patience, and a drive to kill.

We’re never told why the man is there, or why he does what he does. We are simply plunged into Maddie’s life for this brief instant and join her in her struggle.

Throughout the film, Flanagan reminds us that Maddie can’t hear, either by dropping the sound out completely or by having the man stalk her from behind without her noticing. Both of these styles are used to great effect, and there are actually only about fifteen spoken lines of dialogue in the entire film.

That I think, is what makes the film the most fascinating. We are being given a story that feels like it’s been done over and over, but this one has a unique spin, and Siegel and Flanagan work to make sure that everything fires on all thrusters, as they plunge Maddie into danger.

It’s also very cool to see Gallagher playing against type here. He first came to my attention in The Newsroom, but here that likable exterior is shed and he just becomes evil.

It’s a great ride, and while I don’t usually cotton to shorter films (I like at least an hour and a half please), this one rocked!

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