Hush is a pulverizing little exercise in extreme suspense. I’m not talking about this year’s Hush, a sleek little home invasion shocker that’s worth your time too. No, this Hush is a little seen British flick from back in 2008, and it’s a proper nerve jangler. In the tradition of Duel, The Hitcher, Joyride and others, it takes place on a bustling motorway somewhere in great Britain. A young couple trundle through the night on a highway, and find themselves behind a great big creepy semi truck. In one split second, the doors of it’s trailer come unstuck and open just a crack, allowing the to see what’s inside. It’s only a glimpse, but it’s unmistakable: a girl, badly hurt and tied up, screams for help before the motion of the vehicle causes the doors to slam shut again. What would you do? This couple bravely pursues the truck and it’s villainous driver across many miles of road, trying to rescue the girl inside, avoid getting killed themselves and put an end to whatever is going on. It’s one merciless ride into gut churning suspense, and I marveled at the film’s ability to keep such high tension up for a streamlined ninety minutes of pure horror nirvana. It’s not too lenghthy, never sags or drags and always keeps the vibe as taut as the ominous chain holding those truck doors in place. Swift and sensible in resolution, stylish as all hell and scary in spades. Any horror fan owes it to themselves to take a look.
Well it’s arrived, folks. The first truly effective horror film of the year (that I’ve had a chance to see anyway). I was drowsily browsing Netflix and came upon Hush, sporting a snazzy poster and a premise ripped straight from the vintage horror flicks I grew up with. Compelled to give it a shot, I was rewarded with a slick, atmospheric and sturdily made exercise in suspense. It’s not often I feel true giddy tension while watching a thriller (even though most brashly guarantee it on the dvd cover), but this baby delivers in spades. It’s funny because the storyline is a identical to many movies of the past, and similar to countless more. The secret to success, obviously, is in the execution, and Hush is made with a caring love for a genre deeply ingrained in cinematic culture. Director. Mike Flanagan clearly loves horror films, and seems to want to rise above the primordial crust, calcifying his effort with a steady hand and fresh direction that gives even the most knowing plot turns a dose of torque using simple tools: a killer soundtrack, whiplash inducing editing and…and.. What’s the most important thing in any horror film? I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: atmosphere. The setting finds us in a dusky, desolate area, where a deaf novelist (Katy Siegel) toils in isolation, churning out the trimmings of her next book on a laptop, content in her loneliness yet on the verge of unease stirred by cabin fever, restlessness or so,etching else. It’s not long before the film lands the first punch of many: a masked, crossbow wielding serial killer (John Gallagher spits on his previous good guy image, both terrifying, unrecognizable and superb) begins to stalk her with methodical menace, watching from the inky shadows of her home’s exterior while she cowers in terror. He catches on quick about her deafness and uses it against her, terrorizing her at every turn. Now, the film does use genre tropes to churn out its story, and anyone expecting something truly unique to pop out of the ether. Any be disappointed. But to those who yearn for solid, extremely well made horror entries to wade out of the muck and foretell the return to form of a genre that gets maybe two, three winners every year, can rejoice. This one comes up aces. Siegel is instantly likeable and gorgeous to boot, giving her protagonist a resilience that is actually believable, which can’t be said about every girl being pursued by a killer on screen. Gallagher is icky as the psycho, branded with certain idiosyncratic symbols of society which suggest that he’s a jaded outcast driven to sickening extremes by the hand he’s been dealt, given in to his dark impulses completely. For genre fans: this begs a watch and will likely be a highlight of the year. For casual viewers: fun, fun times and a vibe to get sucked in by. For non horror fans: just watch it anyway.