I have never been a fan of home invasion thrillers, not one bit quite frankly. The whole cat and mouse aspect is played out for me and in my opinion the best stories have already been told, manipulated, and told again… or so I thought. Roughly ten minutes into Hush and my chest is already tight and it will remain so for the duration of this brilliantly intense flick.
Conceived over dinner, Hush is the brainchild of husband and wife writing team, director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Absentia) and leading lady Katie Siegel (Oculus). Siegel shines as Maddie Young, a deaf novelist who has retreated to the calming seclusion of the woods in hopes of finishing her latest book. Not entirely isolated, plucky neighbor Sara (Samantha Sloyan) pops in for a visit, giving insight as to the inner workings of Maddie’s mind and providing us with a large amount of the film’s mere fifteen minutes of dialogue. Sara’s next appearance is nothing short of nerve-racking when our unnamed killer played by John Gallagher Jr. (The West Wing, 10 Cloverfield Lane) brutally steps into the scene. A quick chat with her sister Max (Emma Graves) via FaceTime further connects us to Maddie and distracts her just long enough for the killer to begin his unnerving game of terror. The killer seems almost invigorated by his curiosity of Maddie, her handicap after all, allows him to employ new methods of psychological torture. Neighbor John (Michael Trucco) enters the story only to provide a sense of false hope to the naive. I feel inclined to note that there is a moment of irony here that I utterly and I suppose morbidly, appreciated. Maddie, despite her handicap or rather thanks to it, exhibits an incredible ability to adapt and displays a will to persevere that is so strong that I almost felt sorry for Gallagher’s character at points.
As expected in a film with such limited dialogue, the sound design plays an important role and Flanagan implements a few creative techniques here. The choice to apply ambient sounds in lieu of complete silence to capture Maddie’s perspective was not just ingenious but fluidly executed. The sound effects or lack thereof, do not distract from the visual storytelling but enhance it. There is no shortage of gore in Hush but it’s not overplayed either, the violence comes at a steady pace and is portrayed in a realistic manner. The plausibility of Hush is really what kept me enthralled. Gallagher captures the air of a killer wonderfully, there’s a twinkle in his eye, a curve of his lips that completely sells the killer’s passion for inducing fear. Siegel is a breath of fresh air in the role of female protagonist, a role that usually leaves me rooting for the bad guy and screaming obscenities at the screen in disgust of repeated bad decisions. Hush takes the home invasion thriller to a whole new level and I look forward to Flanagan and Siegel’s next twisted conception.
Jumping into the world of foreign horror films can be a daunting task. There is always the chance that the message will be lost in translation and odds are you will be halfway through the movie when you realize it’s been stealing not just your time but your soul. To save you the anguish of such an occurrence I recommend the following flicks.
Dumplings 2004 (Hong Kong)
This one is definitely not for the squeamish, unless of course the thought of aborted fetuses garnishing your dinner plate gets your gears going. Director Fruit Chan (Tales from the Dark 1, The Midnight After, Made in Hong Kong) serves up the evils of human vanity on a silver platter. Fallen actress Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung) is desperate to regain the love and affection of her adulterous, cradle robbing husband (Tony Leung Ka Fai) and maintain her status as an elite housewife. To regain her youth, Mrs. Li seeks out former mainland gynecologist Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), who specializes in restorative services through means of rare culinary delights. Mei’s rejuvenating fetus-stuffed dumpling’s fall short of Mrs. Li’s high expectations however and Mei must procure something a little more potent. Just like with a good whiskey, age is everything and when a very pregnant victim of incestual rape shows up on Mei’s doorstep begging for an abortion… well, you can do the math there. Soon after the potent dish is served Mrs. Li begins to suffer some unsavory side effects as her life takes an unexpected turn.
Blood Glacier 2013 (Austria)
Practical effects and B-movie charm get the blood flowing in this creepy crawly eco-horror directed by Marvin Kren (ABC’s of Death 2, Rammbock, Schautag). A group of scientists in the Austrian Alps are violently confronted by the next phase in evolution after a glacier emitting a blood like substance begins to mutate the local wildlife. While much of the research team is concerned about the negative impact the discovery of these genetic hybrids may have on their funding, site technician Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) is adamant about the dangers of keeping such a thing secret. Things really get messy when Janek’s former love interest Tanja (Edita Malovcic) enters the scene with Prime Minister and company in tow. Oblivious to the dangers ahead Tanja leads her group right into the hands or mandibles rather of the bloodthirsty hybrids.
Baby Blood 1990 (France)
Beautiful show of Kensington Gore as an art medium in this parasitic blood festival by director Alain Robak (Adrenaline, Vertiges). After an “unborn” parasite takes up residence in her uterus, abused and dejected Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou) embarks upon a mercilessly bloody journey to return the parasitic creature to the sea. The two quickly come to terms with their symbiosis, although it’s really more of a standoff if you ask me. As the snarky little parasite baby grows, so does Yanka’s taste for murder and she wholeheartedly embraces her new role as victimizer. Through quirky bouts of dialogue, and an intense shared bloodlust the two form a seriously peculiar bond and leave a respectably bloody wake.
We at Real Otaku Gamer love movies, we hope you enjoy the new Silent Hill Revelation 3D which is out today. The first Silent Hill movie was actually pretty good in this authors book and I am looking forward to the next movie. In a virtual round table conference call with 2 other journalists, We were able to get an interview with Micheal J. Bassett, the director of the new movie. Here are a couple of questions we asked.
ROG: One thing I did notice in the trailers, was the fact that you incorporated a lot of the character designs and models from the games in the movie. How Challenging was that for you and the team?
Michael:I am a fan on the games, I was basically a PC gamer and a lot of my friends were console gamers, so they said “you have to play this game, Silent Hill”. I am a gamer, so I played it and I thought is was freaky and I loved the sound design and the characters. I think is was a seminal part of gaming history with has a short history of only 25 years. Fast forward 10-15 years I was a filmmaker and I had done a few horror movies. While working with the producer of the first Silent Hill movie and talking to him I told him I love the film and wold love to see a sequel and after him say he wants someone to do it, I jumped at the chance.
ROG: One more question. What other gaming franchises do you think would make a good movie adaptation?
Michael: Wow!! That is a good question. There are so many. If someone were to back a big truck full of money to my house, I would love to do a Half-Life film. It is one of my favorite games of all time. It made me think that games have some of the same level of storytelling that movies do. Deus Ex would be another great example, and Assassins Creed is being done. I would like to do Doom and do it properly as well. There are so many good titles.
Thanks to Michael J. Bassett. Also thanks to the other journalists on the call.