Skip to main content

Hush: The Silent Scream is Sometimes the Loudest

The key to a good horror film is editing and sound design. These two things play in tandem, one benefiting from the other. Especially effective is sound when you cannot see, and while this film plays off that idea, it also reverses the idea: sight when you cannot hear.

The story is basic enough. It follows the Aristotelian virtues: taking place in a single setting during a single day from a single perspective. We know very little about the characters, and there is virtually no exposition, so when a secondary character starts performing hand signals, we think she is crazy until the movie gives us enough indirect information for us to safely conclude that she is deaf and mute. This is essentially visual realism, but there are plenty of clues, probably many more in hindsight. And this is a film that recommends a second viewing purely on that note.

It isn't complex, from a story-telling point of view, but its delivery is sophisticated and effective, understanding the nuances of horror from a unique perspective. It is realistic, too: the Lebowitz characters aren't stupid, and arguably as smart as the heroine, who is exceptionally bright. There is a red herring in the form of phone tag with an estranged ex, which might seem like it's leading somewhere but really is an extended visual explanation as to how alone the protagonist is. This film doesn't spell anything out, and certain devices that we come to expect as spoon-feeding us information aren't present; this isn't a film for lazy viewers with short attention spans. It isn't a long film, by any means, but it takes its time, and develops tension.

In regards to the realism, I found the small details a breath of fresh air. In too many films, for example, the hero seems to be unaffected by life-threatening injuries. Here, the character suffers from blood loss, growing weaker and weaker until her vision starts to fade. There are Chekhov's Guns present, but they are not front and center, and in my opinion, any writing device that is used effectively belongs in a film. The motives of the killer are never explained (which is realistic) and what unfolds is a game of cat and mouse between him and his would-be victim. He doesn't know certain things about her, such as, that she's deaf and mute, nor that the windows to her home are smash-resistant. At the same time, she is hardly invincible, taking injuries along the way that are more grievous than what she dishes out. She fights back, but he is realistically the more efficient killer. And these injuries come back to haunt her in the final confrontation.

The final battle between them is satisfying in that it levels the playing field to an extend, but the male killer still has an advantage. He uses his strength to over power the weak-from-blood-loss, injured girl. Still, a fight between him and a strong man earlier in the film establishes that he is not terribly strong and, as such, isn't able to immediately strangle the heroine to death. She responds accordingly, dispatching him with the movie's first and most subtle Chekhov's Gun, a corkscrew.

Much of the film is spent with the villain toying with his victim and she trying to find ways to communicate with the authorities. They chess match slowly reminds us how alone she is, and after the only two people she affiliates with on a daily basis are dead, and all communication has been severed, does she come to the grim conclusion that she has to fight this man. The way this happens might seem like a cheap scare, as we are lead to believe an imagined scene where she is brained with a rock to have actually occurred, but it harkens back to her "writer's brain," which is discussed earlier in the film, and for the first time, in the film, we hear Maggie's "voice" as she converses with herself, playing out the different "endings" to this "story."

Some people have complained that the killer toys with her instead of killing her immediately when he is in the house. But they are missing the point: He is a cat toying with his prey and the idea of using his other victims to build up as much fear in the final girl (and us, the audience) as he can, is why he does what he does. The first two kills are just appetizers to the main course. He lives to instill absolute fear in someone. It is worth noting that his inability to break away from this obsession to terrify is his downfall, but it is only fitting and I hardly found it something to complain about. People that do need their heads examined.

Also, there is a cat in this movie. Eat your heart out, Alien.


Popular posts from this blog

My Two Cents: An Interview with Ahdy Khairat

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicholas van der Waard. I have my MA in English Studies: the Gothic, and run a blog centered on Gothic horror, Nick's Movie Insights. However, if you follow Ahdy Khairat's channel on YouTube, you probably know me as "the two cents guy." With this post, I wanted to interview Ahdy himself and talk to him about his work. But first, a bit of history...

March 25th, 2018. It was a dark Manchester night. I was wearing a Cthul-aid t-shirt and standing in the kitchen of my student-provided flat. Holding my phone in my hand, I was making myself some dinner (rice, eggs and soy sauce—a student diet if ever there was) after a seminar earlier in the evening. I had on my headphones and was listening to some nightly music—some subscribed content on YouTube when Ahdy Khairat's latest remaster, "Call of Ktulu," popped up.

This caught my eye; I had several of Ahdy's remasters on my iPod, and enjoyed his work. However, I also knew he …

Is Garfield (1978-present) Gothic?

This article begs the question, "Is Garfield Gothic?" So many textual mutations of the cat have recently emerged. I shall outline some of them, here.

Is Garfield Gothic? At first glance, the answer would seem to be no. For decades, he's been nothing but a fat cat who likes lasagna. There are no allegories about him. What you see is more or less what you get.

I can assure you, this is only the beginning.
Upon further consideration, the answer is less simple. The Garfield of the present exists in many more forms than he originally did, years ago. He's no longer produced exclusively by Jim Davis; there are "other Garfields" out there, made by other people as (debatable) tribute. Some are funny because they are different than, but reminiscent of, the parent version; and some of are monstrous, and largely for the same reasons. Once there was one; now there is Legion.

One of the "other Garfields." Familiar, and very, very wrong.
All stem from the Jim Davi…

Hell-blazers: Speedrunning Doom Eternal Q & A—Under the Mayo

This Q&A series, playfully titled "Hell-blazers," interviews Twitch streamers, speedrunners and Doom fans about Doom Eternal (2020); it asks them, based on their own experiences, to compare the game to the rest of the franchise, and what effect it will have on speedrunning and gaming at large.

General information about the Q&A can be found, here; a compendium of the interviews as they are published can be found here (which also includes interesting videos, break-downs and other articles).

Nick: My name is Nicholas van der Waard; I have my MA in Gothic literature and wrote my thesis on Metroidvania.

Under the Mayo makes content on YouTube. What follows is my full interview with him about Doom Eternal.

The Runner
Nick: What got you into Doom? Do you remember the first Doom game you played?

Mayo:Doom was always that mysterious game that I saw/played a couple times on other people's computers back in the early/mid '90s. I never actually asked my parents for the game,…