Hush (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Cast: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Samantha Sloyan, Michael Trucco, Emma Graves
Seen on: 4.3.2021

Content Note: ableism

Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a writer who decided to move to a remote area after a bad break-up to finish her book. She befriended her neighbor Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), but other than Sarah and her boyfriend, there is nobody around. Living that alone is made a little more complicated by the fact that Maddie lost both her hearing and her voice due to an infection many years earlier. It’s nothing she can’t cope with – until a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) shows up on her doorstep, obviously out to kill her. But Maddie is a fighter.

I didn’t do my homework when it comes to Hush – I was just in the mood for something horrory and it was already rather late, so I wanted it to be a short film, and this was the first likely candidate. Had I known that it was a film built on cripping up, I would have skipped it – and I wouldn’t have missed much.

The film poster showing Maddie (Kate Siegel) with scared eyes, behind her a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.). A knofe is glinting between them.

Hush has potential, not saying that it doesn’t. The storyline with a Deaf actress in the role of Maddie could have worked very well, especially since the film tries very hard to show how capable Maddie is, how adaptable and creative in trying to outthink her tormentor.

But that is neither her nor there when a the director-writer-star team of the film obviously wrote the role for Siegel, a hearing person who has no connection to the Deaf community, as far as I know (and apparently her sign language isn’t particularly good either, but I’m just picking up on internet rumors here – I am hearing myself and don’t know ASL). It’s treating disability as a gimmick, an extra acting and storytelling challenge.

A masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) looking through a glass door into the house.

And in all that they never find a way to make Maddie’s disability anthing but a hurdle, a problem. To add insult to injury, there are moments where we hear Maddie talking to herself, so we Siegel actually gets to talk with her voice as well in the film (after so carefully making clear that Maddie is not only Deaf, she is mute, too).

Even if I were to leave all of that aside, there were a couple of things that felt utterly nonsensical to me and that pulled me out of the story even further – why the man would take the earrings, for example. That the film starts to become a little repetitive doesn’t help either. So, I think it’s safe to say that you should skip the film, and you don’t need to be sad about it: there’s not much to it anyway.

Maddie (Kate Siegel) looking scared.

Summarizing: I’d rather watch A Quiet Place again.

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