Monday, April 11, 2016

Film Review: Hush (2016)

Hush (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...doesn't remedy the problems in the home invasion genre that have annoyed me for a long time, but it still managed to entertain."

Maddie (Kate Siegel), a mute and deaf writer living in the woods, fights for her life when a masked killer arrives at her home...

Hush is a very simple film. In fact, it's so simple, there's not much more I can say about the plot. The story follows Maddie, a mute and deaf writer who has retreated to the woods. She lives by her lonesome, although she finds companionship in her cats and her kind neighbor. As night approaches, her neighbor comes running to her home, bloodied from head-to-toe. Unfortunately, Maddie does not see her. She doesn't see the intruder she led to her home, either. So, the intruder breaks in, steals her phone, then taunts her. Before Maddie can call for help, the intruder cuts the power. From there, we get ourselves an old-fashioned game of cat-and-mouse. At one point, the film says something along the lines of, "give him an ending he won't predict," while referencing the antagonist. The problem is: it's one of the most utterly predictable endings ever for the audience.

Maybe I should start this review with some positivity because, at the end of the day, I did enjoy the film. At times, Hush is a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. During others, it's a creepy, unnerving tale of madness. The unique protagonist allows for some unique sequences, too. Although the ending is predictable, there are some surprises packed into this film. For example, I did not expect some of the violent turns in this film – I cringed during one involving a hand. The film was also well-paced and balanced. There are some filler scenes here and there, but it doesn't overstay its welcome by too much. I suppose it's the definition of a time-killer. (You get it?) Most of the positives in this film can be credited to the great direction. Unfortunately, the negatives come from the writing, which is the foundation of the film.

The home invasion subgenre is one of the most frustrating, and this film is not excused from said frustration. Despite the uniqueness of the main character, Hush is one of the most generic and contrived films I've seen. Once again, we have an intruder with a creepy mask who's invading a house because 'he can.' It was creepy the first time, but I think it's time we think of a new motive. Revenge? Jealousy? Burial grounds? Anything but the 'because you were home.' The lack of a satisfying motive isn't enough, though. Our intruder is also as dumb as a bag of rocks. Every mistake he makes serves as nothing but a plot contrivance. It's frustrating and even cringe-worthy to watch him fail. I mean, this guy was inside of the house during the beginning of the movie and he ended up locked out due to his stupid 'game.' Also, either Maddie has bulletproof windows and impenetrable doors or this intruder is also the weakest person on the planet - kick the door open already! All of this creates a frustrating, hair-pulling experience. Believe, there's more, but I'm not going to bother. I've prolonged this review long enough already.

The acting wasn't bad, though. In fact, I really enjoyed the performances. Kate Siegel was great as the leading lady. John Gallagher Jr. was also great as the intruder. The pair dominate most of the screen time, but the supporting cast was also good. The film looks and sounds good, too. I liked the music whenever it played and the sound editing was also great for the tone/concept of the film. The film is written by Kate Siegel and Mike Flanagan; Flanagan also directs. I think the concept is original, the story uses the concept well at times, but the narrative is ultimately flawed by the same old issues – and that's utterly disappointing. Maddie is interesting, but she felt underdeveloped, and the intruder is a clone from another film, which makes the characters feel hollow. The direction, on other hand, is this film's silver lining. Balancing suspense with a creative visual/audio presentation, Flanagan creates an engaging and often unnerving experience. It's still frustrating due to the contrived story, but it is entertaining.

Overall, Hush is a good film. Like I said, at the end of the day, I enjoyed it. I thought it was suspenseful and exciting. The film doesn't remedy the problems in the home invasion genre that have annoyed me for a long time, but it still managed to entertain. Sure, the characters are annoyingly frustrating, the film is riddled with plot contrivances, and the ending was predictable from the beginning. None of that detracts from the fact that I was entertained and unnerved by the end. For people like me, it's worth a rental. For those who love home invasion movies, you're in for a treat.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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