Gimmick movies are an interesting phenomenon. I believe most new movie ideas are gimmicks until more movies follow suit making it a subgenre. An example of this are zombie movies. The Night of the Living Dead introduced the idea of the undead flesh eating humans into the horror genre and it eventual became its own subgenre. Another example would be found footage films. They existed before The Blair Witch Project, but the 1999 horror movie popularized the film making technique and concept (or gimmick) which has now become a genre all itself.
Two horror movies came out last year which utilized a similar gimmick; preying on the handicapped. Don’t Breath, a well-made thriller follows a group of criminals who break into the home of a blind man, thinking he was an easy target to steal from. Hush, an atrocious horror movie tells the story of a deaf and mute woman who is stalked and attacked by a deranged killer.
I had seen the Hush thumbnail on Netflix for a while and after seeing its high praise and rotten tomatoes score, I decided to watch it. How is this movie rated so highly? It is not good.
Not once did I feel scared or anxious when watching this movie.
Hush makes every foreshadowing and exposition building mistake. The movie begins with the deaf and mute woman Maddie (Kate Siegel) cooking in her secluded home in the woods alone when her neighbor Sarah (Samantha Sloyan) messages her asking to come over. Maddie uses her apple lap top and iPhone to invite Sarah to dinner. While Sarah walked over, Maddie received a call from her ex and she reluctantly didn’t answer.
Sarah arrived at Maddie’s home and it was established that Maddie is an author and that Sarah liked her book. During the conversation the extremely loud, vibration heavy, and bright flashing light fire alarm went off as Maddie forgot about her food and it burned creating a lot of smoke.
“That is quite the fire alarm,” Sarah said with a shocked face which prompted Maddie to explain why the alarm is so intense, so she can feel the vibrations and see the lights.
Right as that conversation happened I said out loud to my cat sitting on my lap “that alarm is going to be brought back in the third act and save her.” The most predictable foreshadowing of all time.
Sarah left to go home and was brutally stabbed to death by a masked man on the door step of Maddie’s kitchen. Maddie didn’t notice, because of the whole deaf thing, and went back to writing her book. The killer (Jason Gallagher Jr. – 10 Cloverfied Lane, The Newsroom) noticed she was deaf and decided to play around with her, because of the whole deranged killer thing.
Maddie sat on her couch writing her book struggling with writers block on the ending of the story. She contemplates calling her ex but got cold feet. Instead she called her sister via face time on her computer where more painful exposition is forced upon the viewer. Through the conversation with her sister it is established that her ex is an asshole and that she is all alone in the sticks (but still has gnarly internet and phone service) and that her sister worries about her.
The rest of the movie is the killer fucking around with Maddie trapping her in her home. The concept isn’t terrible, it just wasn’t executed well at all. As I said, I never felt scared or anxious as the movie did a terrible job of setting up the scary situations. A snarky killer with a cross bow plays around with his prey before he kills it. There were a few cool shots (at the end when he comes in behind her in the bath tub) and some hard to watch violence (trapping her hand in the glass door and stomping it with his foot) but those were heavily outweighed by the cliché horror movie tropes. Her pet cat named Bitch wasn’t terrible and served as some comic relief, similar to the Seagull in The Shallows.
The scene that pissed me off the most was the dream sequence she has where the killer crushes her head in with a brick when she tries to escape. I knew she wasn’t really dead and that it was a hallucination as there was still like 30 minutes left in the movie. I fucking hate it when directors use this, killing the main character in a dream scene for a cheap scare.
The symbolism at the end was as subtle as an extreme right winger flying a confederate flag from his porch. Maddie decides to fight the killer to the death as she had no other option. She taunts him into coming into the house to kill her. This prompts the killer to grab a pipe, or baseball bat (I can’t remember) to break the sliding glass door to get inside. Maddie must have had bullet proof thick glass on her door as it took the killer several swings to break the glass. As he tried to break in Maddie went to her computer and typed a frantic message in the word document that contained the ending of her book.
Get it, the ending, she finally wrote it. She typed a message saying she loved her family and that she died fighting.
After a sloppy hand to hand battle with knives and bug spray in the eyes, Maddie still couldn’t get the upper hand on the killer. If only there was a way to surprise and distract the killer. Like a deaf person proof fire alarm.
Maddie finally used the alarm to disorient the killer but he still managed to mount and strangle her. As she began to die, her life literally flashed before her eyes. The dumbest and laziest cliché of all time. When the images of her childhood appeared on the screen I scoffed so loudly my cat jumped of my lap.
Maddie then reaches for a cork screw and stabs the killer in the temple putting a merciful end to the terrible movie.
Movies that rely on a simple gimmick for its plot better be well made as the gimmick can’t carry everything on its own. Hush had like two good scenes in its short 80 minute run time and a whole lot of bad ones. I didn’t even bring up the fake cop scene where the killer receives a little characterization and kills Sarah’s boyfriend. Hush is predictable, relied on cheap violence and tricks, and worst of all, it wasn’t scary.