This is not an exceptional film, mind you. Nor is it an inspired one. For the most part it adheres to the conventions and treads familiar territory. But with a few refreshing subversions and an incredibly stylish production design, it passes the test and proves to be an effective, no-nonsense thriller.
Kate Siegel plays Maddie, a deaf and mute writer who lives alone in a secluded house. When a masked man appears at her window she must rely on her remaining cognitive senses to defend herself and keep the psychopath out. And that's it. A simple story with a new level of intrigue.
Director Mike Flanagan strips away the genre and takes a minimalist approach. With his lead subject's disability he has given himself alternative methods of suspense. Along with Maddie, the audience is exposed to silence. Very little is spoken throughout the film and at times the sound is dropped entirely. The effect is surprisingly tense. Without the revealing sounds of footsteps or creaking floor boards we find ourselves at the mercy of the maniac and unable to sense his whereabouts. This is a clever and welcome trope that gives HUSH an upper hand on its rivals.
The story hits the ground running with the terror kicking off almost immediately. With an understated and restrained score, along with a controlled and fluent cinematography the film wastes no time and establishes itself as a taut thriller. Neither of the lead performances are exceptional, but they are efficient and acceptable.
Where HUSH falters – ever so slightly – is in its writing. There are moments in the final act that fall victim to cliché, and a few unnecessary fantasy sequences threaten to undo the suspense. Thankfully these moments pass and the narrative picks itself up and brings things to a satisfying conclusion. It's violent, surprising and a little bit unconventional at times. It's not a perfect film but there's certainly a lot worse home-invasion flicks out there.
It's streaming exclusively to Netflix so if you have the service, you've got nothing to lose. Check it out and see for yourself.