Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, Emma Graves
Written by: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/terror and some language
Running Time: 81
Date: 04/08/2016

Hush (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Deathly Quiet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Mike Flanagan's Hush premiered at South by Southwest in March of 2016, Netflix purchased the distribution rights, and less than a month later, it was released as a streaming movie. Salem-born Flanagan previously directed the excellent Oculus, which is, for my money, one of the best horror films of the past decade, and he has two others scheduled for release this year. Hush is of the familiar, self-explanatory "home invasion" subgenre, but with a few twists. One is that the lead character is deaf (almost unique, except that Michael Apted made a 1994 "home invasion" movie with a blind woman, called Blink). The other is that the masked invader eventually removes his mask, and the effect is unexpectedly chilling.

Kate Siegel co-wrote the screenplay and stars as Maddie, a successful author, who has chosen to live in a remote house, decorated with lots of windows and surrounded by woods, to work on her new book. She tries (and fails) to cook dinner, chats with a neighbor (who is trying to learn sign language, although Maddie reads lips), and then holes up for the night. In a shocking scene, the intruder commits a murder right up next to a window without Maddie noticing, and then stalks Maddie, seemingly just for the fun of it. Admittedly, Flanagan occasionally relies on genre staples, but for the most part creates a tense and effectively gripping tale. Most surprising is John Gallagher Jr. — mainly known for his lovably bearded, soft-bellied dorks in things like The Newsroom, Short Term 12, and 10 Cloverfield Lane — as the terrifyingly lean, cool killer.

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