Directed by Mike Flanagan
A fitting tagline for the new horror film “Hush,” produced by Blum House (“Paranormal Activity,” “The Gift”) and released exclusively on Netflix, would be “What one killer thought would be fish-in-a-barrel turns out to be a cat-and-mouse game.” That’s because this serial killer, left nameless and played by John Gallagher Jr., has come across a jackpot: a deaf and mute writer living alone in her reclusive cabin in the woods. He teases and messes with the seemingly helpless victim, having some fun before he makes his move. But little does he know, the writer, Maddie (Kate Siegel), is finishing up her next horror novel—so she’s better able to anticipate the killer’s moves and turn them against him.
Kate Siegel’s incredibly likable character invites the audience into her home and makes us feel scared for Maddie. Maddie’s vulnerable situation is just the first of many right moves the screenwriters (Mike Flanagan, who also directed, plus Siegel herself) made when crafting this maverick horror movie, which bucks some horror movie tropes but warmly embraces others. When they’re done right, you wonder why people complain about them in the first place. Opposite Siegel, John Gallagher seems to be enjoying himself. After being on the right side of evil in “10 Cloverfield Lane” earlier this year, it seems there’s something freeing about playing the bad guy for the up-and-comer—well, if he was an up-and-comer he’s surely here now.
Once “Hush” ended, I breathed for what felt like the first time since the movie started. This is how horror is supposed to be done. I beg the filmmakers to put “Hush” in theaters, so I can see it where it deserves to be seen. But for now, we’re the winners—we get to see brilliant filmmaking from the comfort of our couches.