Hush (2016)

Hush, an independent home invasion thriller that embraces the old tropes and adds a few new intriguing dynamics. Specifically: our protagonist is deaf and mute.

Available on Netflix Streaming, I really did like this one, despite my general frustration with the genre of films about mysterious killers terrorizing innocent people in their homes. I just find them to be gratuitous and a little bit depressing, mostly because I do personally find real people to be scarier than supernatural foes.

I watched this one with very little knowledge about it, but I did know that the woman alone was going to be deaf.

Trailer:

The beauty of a film about a woman who is deaf, is that it heightens the experience of the audience who gets to hear and see lots of things happening within what would normally be earshot for someone with perfect hearing. So, this allows our villain to get closer, be louder, more obvious and predatory, and yet still allow our protagonist to be completely oblivious. The result is that the film is relatively quiet and claustrophobic, with very little dialogue where it would normally matter. A lot of the standard things that a hearing person would do become a different matter for someone who is deaf. For example, a deaf person can’t make a phone call, but may use video chat more often. A deaf person might not have a loud alarm system to notify her, or know when their front door is open. A deaf person might not even be aware when someone is shooting at her.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I really was pleasantly surprised by the things that were allowed to happen here, and the boundaries and expectations that were pushed a bit further due to the main characters and their nature. The acting was pretty good, and it felt a bit akin to the quality of an episode of Black Mirror (i.e. fantastically-produced but also compact enough to feel like a good short story and not a huge investment). The characters were not superheroes with super strength, didn’t make all of the best decisions, and didn’t follow every little Chekhov’s gun that the audience thinks is going to succeed. And for that, it was great. There were a few weak acting moments by some secondary cast members, some frustrating decisions made by characters that might make you want to yell at the screen, but overall it was an entertaining film with some original, nail-biting tension.

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