Hush

“Hush” is both a verb and a non, the former to make someone quiet and the latter, a state of quiet, especially if something dramatic occurs: “a hush came over the crowd.” Unfortunately, nothing dramatic occurs here. Hush is dull as dishwater stuff, and critics should hush when it comes to praising it.

You heard it here first.

Kudos to director Mike Flanagan (Oculus) for having a protagonist who’s deaf.

But…

If you place the fingers of your right hand against your lips, this means “bad” in American Sign Language and make no mistake, Hush is a bad movie.

A lead character with a disability…now there’s a near sure-fire guarantee critics who’d normally ignore a horror film, will descend from their ivory towers by torchlight to check this one out. Why? Not sure, but the same thing happens with supernatural horrors, lavishly overpraised for their restraint (restraint is a neutral term for horror movies. Sometimes it works, as in the case of Halloween, but just as often it doesn’t, like here. The same can be said about silence. It can be golden, or a pounding soundtrack can be used to ratchet up fears, especially the classic Fulci/Italian stuff).

Hush’s setup is pretty great: a deaf writer, Maddie (capably played by Hush co-writer Kate Siegel) is seeking solace in the woods. She’d be there for quiet contemplation if the inside/outside of her mind wasn’t quiet enough. Still, a neat premise. A nearby friend is on hand to set the table, dramatically speaking.

Soon, a mad murderer is lurking about in a white face mask, which makes him look like an 8 Mile Maniac. But there’s no Rabbit here.

The rest of Hush is stalk-and-slash cat-and-mouse stuff.

The killer conspicuously lets the air out of Maddie’s tires and she scrawls defiant messages back to him on sliding glass. He chases her, she pulls a window down on his hand. Meh.

One thing that can be said about Hush is that it pretty seamlessly integrates social media / technology.

**1/2 (out of 5)

You’re Next

Invasion of the Body Dispatchers…You’re Next is a slick, at times mordantly funny, exercise in horror family dynamics. And it’s a home invasion film too, and what a home…

The Davison clan is having a family reunion in a massive Tudor mansion in the woods. Along for the ride is their significant others, including a smirking chainsmoker, Zee (with Uma Thurman’s haircut from Pulp Fiction), an Aussie teaching assistant, Erin, and a indie filmmaker Tariq to add some drama to a fracturing family. And the Davison matriarch is a WASPy Aubrey (scream queen legend Barbara Crampton) who can barely hold things together along with the religious pater familias, Paul.

The Davison boys pot-shot each other over career choices over the family dining table. Drake (the Tom Brady-styled successful one) lobbing thinly veiled insults masked as curiosity.

And speaking of masks, that’s when things get interesting: A group of 1, 2, possibly 3 men are lurking outside in animal disguises. With a spate of arrows cracking glass, the family is suddenly under siege (“siege” being the operative word as the mens’ weaponry* is positively medieval: crossbows)

In Indiewire writer Simon Barrett claims inspiration from being a “huge fan of the Agatha Christie novel The Ten Little Indians aka And Then There Were None, a piece of fiction that continually comes up in our Really Awful Movies Podcast discussions as a catchall for people trapped and being plucked off one at a time by a scrupulous, detail-oriented killer. And that’s doing You’re Next a bit of a disservice. Lots of time and effort is spent in becoming invested in the characters, always welcome in the horror milieu, and to the filmmakers’ credit, there are a few twists.

Aussie model Sharni Vinson’s Erin (pictured) is a bodacious and resourceful ass-kicker, carrying the show when things sag.

That being said, things seriously derail toward the end, with injuries sustained by the principals that would incapacitate the average Navy Seal, let alone a bunch of to-the-manor (literally) born twats like these people. Less is more is a dictum that’s seldom followed. And gore, like swearing, works best when it’s well-placed.

***1/4 (out of 5)

[*Editors’ note: You’re Next features a death-by-blender not included in our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons…because we already had a blender write-up for the cheesy 80s horror, Pledge Night.]