This week has been quite a busy week, with lots of happenings keeping me occupied, thus not leaving much room for the abundance of movie watching that I like to do in my spare time.
If you’re looking for a movie to watch tonight and are in the need of some motivation helping you decide, look no further than Saturday night at The Geek, Simple. movies!
“Oh, what are we watching?”
“We’re watching a horror in bed? Are you insane, how will I sleep?”
“We don’t have to, if you don’t want to…”
“No, it’s fine, but if I can’t sleep, I’m keeping you up too.”
As I’ve mentioned many times before, I hate horror movies. This week, I was subjected to a subgenre that I reserve the most hatred and unbridled fear for – the home invasion. Although entirely overused within the scope of most crime/thriller/horror movies these days, it still never fails to terrify me.
When I asked what it was about, I was met with a shrug, so I went into the movie with no preamble or knowledge of plot.
A deaf writer, who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life, must fight for her life in silence, when a masked killer appears at her window.
Hush offers an introduction that follows the same manner that all movies of this genre do: the setting and main protagonist are established immediately, offering regurgitated archetypes most commonly found in straight to video horrors: the single, white female lives alone in the woods, having cut herself off from the outside word – including her ex-boyfriend. Other than the fact that our main protagonist, Maddie, is deaf, there is nothing particularly unique about the introduction to Hush.
I think the same can also be said about the progression of the movie’s narrative from beginning to end. I found Hush to have a lot of inconsistencies and moments that I simply didn’t believe, from the outset. While the premise is mildly interesting, there is no preamble to it at all. In other movies that focus on the same subgenre – The Strangers – for example, there’s a tangible reason that allows the horror to unfold – the innocuous, yet entirely sinister knock on the door – but with Hush, there is none of that.
Instead, the horror unfolds abruptly, as Maddie’s best friend Sarah, aggressively collides with the outside of her patio, slamming the windows with bloodied palms, begging Maddie to hear her and open the door. Being deaf, Maddie is unaware of what is happening outside, and all the audience are able to do at this point is watch, as Sarah is shot through the back with an arrow, closely followed by an ominous figure appearing alongside her, who proceeds to stab her repeatedly through the stomach – all the while, staring intently at his next victim.
It was a relatively disturbing moment for audiences, and the horror element to the movie was definitely established, however, the antagonist’s introduction seemed poorly executed – at least to me, and it filled the plot with holes that I couldn’t fill, and that would proceed to become larger as the plot progressed. Why was the antagonist in the woods? Why was he already wearing a mask? How did he happen upon Sarah? What prompted him to kill her? To me, none of this added up – the suggestion, I’m assuming, is that director, Mike Flanagan, wanted the audience to simply acknowledge the antagonist must have been watching the women all along, or was drawn to the noise of the fire alarm as it blared out into the otherwise silent woods. Yet, that still doesn’t answer more of my questions and doesn’t acknowledge why a man would be trawling the woods, in a mask, looking for women to murder.
As the movie progresses, elements of these questions are partly answered – we discover that his crossbow has notches in it, presumably from other women he has murdered – but this doesn’t solidly answer the question of how he happened to be there. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be answered, and I am wrong to focus so intently on it, but for me, it made the rest of Hush pretty unbelievable.
However, inconsistencies and believability aside, the short scene that followed the introduction of the antagonist were executed brilliantly: I was genuinely terrified watching Maddie obliviously type away at her computer, as the antagonist stood behind her, simply watching. Furthermore, as she begins to receive photos of herself from inside her home, being sent from her own phone, made me feel entirely sick to my stomach and awash with fear (I have these fears a lot, which is why I always keep the blinds in my house closed, even during the day, if I’m home alone).
After this moment, however, I feel that Hush begins to ebb somewhat – a theme which will continue throughout the duration of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments that are undoubtedly compelling and engage the audience in horror, such as the aforementioned, but then audiences are immediately let down when the narrative fails to consistently continue the elevated sense of horror, as the plot progresses. For example, with reference to their meeting, the pace seemingly comes to a halt; even though he cuts the power, and could break in and kill her at any moment, Maddie doesn’t do anything other than write a note for him on her window, which then prompts the ultimate let down for the rest of the movie’s progression.
The antagonist removes his mask, revealing his face to Maddie and begins to inform her that he could break in at any time, but he wanted to wait until she is thoroughly emotionally tortured first. I’m assuming that Flanagan’s intentions were to heighten the horror, except that the anonymity the mask allowed fuelled the horror – and thus its removal made Hush a slightly run of the mill movie, which was slightly soured and became even more unbelievable to me. After this moment, Hush became a somewhat stale story of survival, in which the audience were witness to Maddie’s attempts at rationalise a plausible escape plan.
What follows, is poorly executed horror elements that denounce the overall plausibility of Hush. For example, when the antagonist leads Sarah’s body to the back of the house and uses her dead hand to knock on the window. Or the continued opening and closing of the house’s doors – which the antagonist scrambles to get to, even though he allegedly could break in at any time. Even the moment in which Sarah’s boyfriend, John arrives to check up on the two women, is poorly executed and genuinely contrived; the antagonist poses as law enforcement, and it takes John far too long to realise that he’s lying and is a danger to Maddie – it is only when she slams herself against the patio doors, and John’s attention is diverted to her, that he truly realises that Maddie is in danger. Except, of course, by then it is too late.
The conclusion to Hush was also annoying and only further added to the implausibility of the movie’s narrative. As Maddie realises she has to fight to the death, the plot begins to fall apart and heads definitively towards the absurd.
The antagonist is able to smash Maddie’s hand repeatedly against a door jamb, but instead of opening it further and allowing himself in the house with ease, he allows her to remove her hand and lock him out again – why? Then, as she types with relative speed for only having one hand, he attempts to break in by smashing the windows with a crowbar – except he fails – again, why – and what are those windows made out of?!
Maddie then proceeds to the bathroom, where she sits rocking back and forth, attempting to stay conscious and focus on the door. Suddenly, behind her, sitting in the bath, is her murderer – revealing further glaring plot holes. If the antagonist was not able to get in before, via windows or doors, how did he get in now? In the bathroom, there is a tiny window that opens from the inside, so how does he end up behind her in the bath?
What happens from hereon in is the descending of any plausibility and credibility of the movie, as suddenly, Maddie, in spite of all of her serious injuries, is able to become the most resourceful she has been throughout the entire movie, resulting in the antagonist’s death and her survival.
The final moment, in which she sits on the porch, as emergency vehicles arrive and she strokes her cat (hilariously named Bitch), she smiles wryly and I genuinely think that this moment is tied into the movie’s introduction, where she is struggling to write the conclusion to her book and I just find that infuriating.
It would have been less, except there were a few elements within the sound direction that I really liked; being drawn into Maddie’s soundless world on occasion was an interesting twist on an otherwise tired subgenre, but the overall narrative and disappointing plot conclusion meant I couldn’t give it anything more without feeling hypocritical.