I feel like it’s been a while since a solid home invasion movie. The last really good one I remember is You’re Next a few years back. I’m not counting The Purge because it’s a bad home invasion movie so it doesn’t meet my criteria of being a good movie. I know a lot of people point to The Strangers as the best one we’ve gotten recently, but I still align myself with You’re Next. It was such a fun and interesting spin on the whole subgenre, taking what would normally be the final girl and having her fight back the entire film. Hush doesn’t replace You’re Next as my favourite home invasion movie from the last while, but it’s near the top…of what is a pretty short list so maybe that’s not a huge compliment. This is a good movie! There, that’s better.
Hush’s plot can be summarized very quickly – it’s about a deaf and mute woman being stalked at her secluded home by a crazy person in a creepy mask. You hear that and you immediately know this thing has potential and thankfully for the most part, Hush takes complete advantage of its central concept and makes for an effective little thriller.
Much of the success of this movie hinges on the lead character, Madison, as this is very often a one person show. Actor Kate Siegal needs to convey a range of emotions, all without being able to speak a single word. She is remarkably up to the task. She creates a more fully realized character than I would have expected and makes for a central character that you root for and root for hard. She is put through the ringer in this film (the violence is sporadic but harsh when it’s time for shit to really go down) and this makes all her tiny victories throughout the movie all the more satisfying. We are only given a few minutes at the beginning to get to know her character, a shut-in writer who lost her hearing and voice as the result of bacterial meningitis when she was 10, but it’s just enough to be effective.
There are a handful of characters outside of Madison who pop up throughout, with the most notable being the killer, who I did not realize the whole time I was watching the movie that it was the same dude from 10 Cloverfield Lane. Not John Goodman, the other dude. The only other dude that isn’t John Goodman. Turns out that dude is super good at acting! Here he is menacing without going too over the top like those Purge assholes (don’t worry, we’ll be getting to them in just a couple of days). A bold decision is made with his character early on that could have been a complete disaster, but he (his name is John Gallagher Jr. I should mention) manages to make it work.
I feel this marathon I keep falling back on saying that these movies move at a good pace. I’m going to try really hard to stop doing that in future reviews but for now, I gotta say that Hush moves at a really good pace. It runs less than 80 minutes if you don’t count the end credits, though you wouldn’t really want to go any longer. Even at that short length, there are scenes that feel like padding. The biggest example is when a neighbor shows up at Madison’s house to check on things. The scene feels unnecessary, and the neighbor is such a shockingly gullible idiot that it takes away any amount of suspense. The outcome is clearly broadcast so it’s a matter of waiting for the inevitable. It’s a misstep in a movie that usually remains on a steady path.
As much as I enjoyed the later portions of the movie where the killer is terrorizing Madison in her home, I felt like the first act was the most effective. Watching as the killer lurks in the background, gradually realizing that Madison can’t hear a thing he is doing, is the most unnerving stuff. The cat and mouse game of the latter half is still good, but they do rely a bit too much on having Madison almost escape, only to be chased back into the house by the killer. The best stuff is when she is in hiding because you know this guy could be anywhere since she can’t actually hear him maneuvering around the area.
Hush is good stuff. It’s a simple and effective thriller with a good central idea that they make terrific use of. A great central performance from Kate Siegal helps to anchor the whole thing and makes for a character that is easy to root for, especially as her pain and torment continues to escalate as things progress. It’s not out to reinvent the home invasion movie, but it’s a very good one of those.