Hush (2016)

(Netflix Streaming, November 2016) I am really not a fan of home-invasion thrillers, and even less of horror movies featuring a ridiculously overpowered serial killer. Imagine my reaction upon finding out that Hush, on paper, is nothing more than a gimmicky take on the same old tired idea: A deaf woman fighting against a murderous psychopath in a house lost in the woods. But there’s something to be said about intent. There’s no trying to glorify the killer here, and it’s clear that the heroine is the one we’re cheering for. Even better is the film’s execution: Clocking in at a lean 87 minutes, Hush seldom wastes a moment in milking all possible suspense out of its dramatic premise. The cat-and-mouse game between disabled heroine and psycho killer is well done, and gives the impression of an authentic battle rather than an arbitrary string of showpieces. Much care has been spent in crafting the aural atmosphere of the story, the audio perspective of the film shifting between the deaf woman’s perception and a more objective recording of what’s happening. (If you’re watching at home late at night, though, watch out for the VERY LOUD AND PROLONGED alarm noises that happen twice in the movie.) After Absentia and Oculus, writer/director Mike Flanagan is building a filmography of striking horror movies, and Hush is the best of them so far. Kate Siegel not only turns in a good performance in a pivotal role, but also co-wrote the screenplay with husband Flanagan. Hush is a small triumph of execution, filled with thrilling set pieces and holding it all together until the predictable but satisfying end. When a slasher film can convince even a skeptic like me that it’s worth a look, then it’s a mission accomplished.

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