Being isolated for some people can be quite comforting, no one else around, just peaceful, and even better if that isolation is in nature. This is the setting for HUSH, a woman living alone in the woods, in isolation, working on her next novel. We have seen this setting done before, but with different stories being told.
There is a lot of potential with setting a film out in the woods, but whether or not it is successful depends on a lot of factors. The script needs to be solid, the atmosphere needs to feel right and of course the acting has to match. HUSH is a film that succeeds on all levels, this is a psychological thriller that is sure to give audiences a white knuckle rush.
Maddie (Katie Siegel) is a deaf/mute writer, who is working on her next book. She lives by herself in isolation, out in the woods and it seems this is by choice. The interactions she has regularly are with her neighbour Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), who has just finished reading Maddie’s last novel. On this particular night Maddie’s ex is trying to make contact with her, and she isn’t up for dealing with it. Before long, she notices something strange is happening and a masked man with a knife is standing outside her house.
This is a home invasion film of sorts, with an enemy that is equally as mysterious as he is dangerous. Maddie does not have the upper hand here either, she can’t hear him and she cannot communicate verbally. How can she get help? Well he’s turned off the power to ensure she is limited in what she can do, he has her cell phone, he’s there to torment and he is armed. The predicament that Maddie is left in terrifying, but she is not about to go down without a fight. A game of cat and mouse plays out, in ways that are certainly unpredictable and incredibly intense.
There is limited dialogue, so when there is talking, each word feels important and worth listening to. With two main characters, one who cannot talk, other means are needed to get things across, such as the sound design and the visuals. Care was taken with each of these elements, a moment never feels wasted, each scene has a purpose. Loud noises do play a huge role here, and when you hear them and realise that Maddie can’t it adds another layer to the experience. There is one scene where something horrible is happening outside, we can hear it and Maddie is oblivious to it, its frightening.
Katie Siegel is fantastic as Maddie, she also co-wrote the script, she knows her strengths and plays to those. We have a character that refuses to be a victim and fight back, her inner voice is what helps her through and she tackles the situation like she does with her writing. This was a fantastic choice, and an added element to the character that gave her a way to be vocal. John Gallagher Jr was truly frightening as the intruder, he shows up and its game on from the get go. This is not his story, however he gets a lot of screen time and he makes for a crazy antagonist for Maddie to go up against. He’s obviously under estimated this woman, and the plans he comes up with are sick yet strangely make sense. The pair share chemistry, and it is absolutely amazing to watch this game unfold.
Mike Flanagan has expertly directed this film, it runs under 90 minutes and feels completely whole. The script is tight and clever, everything is presented felt like it made sense and there didn’t seem to be anything out of place. The use of sound was fantastic, it complimented the character of Maddie and gave this film such an intense atmosphere. As things progress this film builds up the suspense and its aura of unpredictability make this a must see film.