A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hush is a 2016 horror movie about a deaf writer living alone in the woods who becomes the target of a crossbow-wielding killer. There are some gruesome murders -- stabbings to the chest and throat of some of the characters, resulting in lots of spurting, gushing, and dripping blood. The dead body of the neighbor of the lead character is used to terrorize the lead character, who is frequently shown in states of extreme shock and trauma. There are graphic injuries in which characters are shown enduring extreme pain as they try to sterilize wounds with rubbing alcohol. Characters shot with bows, stabbed with hammers, and in one scene, the lead character's hand is stuck in the door and the killer kicks and stomps on it repeatedly until crushed. The lead character's cat's name is "Bitch," and in a climactic scene, the psychopathic killer calls his intended victim a "f--king c--t."
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What's the story?
In HUSH, Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) is a deaf novelist who lives alone in the middle of the woods so she can work on her next book and get some perspective after breaking up with her boyfriend. But her tranquility is shattered when a masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.) wielding a crossbow kills Maddie's neighbor Sarah as she is trying to get into Maddie's front door. The masked killer realizes that Maddie is deaf, and decides to stalk her by stealing her phone and sending her pictures and texts while inside the house. The killer then cuts off the power to the house, slashes her car tires, and proceeds to play a cat-and-mouse game with Maddie, taunting and tormenting her, even as she fights back and stabs him in the arm with a hammer and tries to trick him by setting off the car alarm and by throwing a flashlight deep into the woods. But as all attempts to escape the killer fail, and Sarah's boyfriend is unable to stop the killer, Maddie realizes that the only way she will survive is by finding a way to outsmart the killer and stop him before she's the next victim.
Is it any good?
This movie attempts to put a new spin on the familiar "trapped alone and isolated with a monster" horror movie, but any possibilities for true originality are restrained by the formulaic storyline. The lead character, Maddie, a strong and independent deaf female novelist living alone in the woods, could have been a truly memorable character with a director like Hitchcock or DePalma, but here her character and the premise itself feel unfulfilled. While there's certainly blood and gore and death, even these moments feel like they could have been heightened so much more. There's depth, backstory, and, unlike so many other horror movies, much more to Maddie than a screaming and traumatized woman trying not to die in a gory manner, but all that effort to create a three-dimensional character reduced to primal violence feels unsatisfying within the limitations of the "monster in the house" story formula.
Ultimately, the shortcomings of Hush are attributable to the unnamed psychopathic crossbow-wielding killer. Yes, he gruesomely murders innocent victims, but he could have been so much worse and so much more memorable in the pantheon of horror movie murderers. The dynamic between the killer and Maddie could have been so much more than what it is, since the filmmakers are clearly trying to make something more than a gratuitously violent one-dimensional slasher film. And like the overall story itself, the audience is left with the feeling that this was a lost opportunity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror movies in which characters trapped in an enclosed area must fight a monster of some kind, be it human, animal, or alien. What do you think is the appeal of movies like these? Other than Hush, what are some other examples of these types of movies?
How does this movie address the issue of the lead character being deaf? How is this used to heighten the suspense of the movie?
Why do you think some people like movies in which characters are injured, tortured, and killed in a variety of gruesome manners? Were the violent and bloody murders necessary for the storyline of this movie, or did they seem gratuitous?
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