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Film / Hush

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Hush is a 2016 psychological horror film directed by Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus), and stars co-writer Kate Siegel (Flanagan's wife).

A deaf novelist living in a secluded woodland home finds herself terrorized by a masked killer.

This film contains examples of:

  • Awesomeness by Analysis: During the climax, Maddie uses her "writing voice" to consider multiple scenarios which all end in her death, before figuring out what she has to do.
  • Apocalyptic Log: As the killer is making his way into the house for the final showdown, Maddie quickly types up a final message in the book she's working on.
    male 5'9 green eyes brown hair short
    tattoo on side of neck
    love you mom dad max
    died fighting
  • Ax-Crazy: The killer. Who of sound mind would go on a psychotic killing spree for nothing more than For the Evulz?
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  • Bait the Dog: The film does this to Maddie and the audience, showing us an early close-up of Sarah tucking her phone into her back pocket. Maddie remembers this later in the movie and tries to retrieve the phone from Sarah's body. Unfortunately, the killer reveals that he already had it after he nearly catches her.
  • Big Bad: The unnamed Serial Killer tormenting Maddie.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Maddie survives, as does her cat, but her friends are dead, she's suffered numerous horrible injuries including an arrow to the thigh and a mangled hand, and undoubtedly is going to be psychologically scarred for a long time.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Subverted. The killer clearly only has a finite number of crossbow bolts and is actively shown retrieving them after firing them.
  • Brick Joke: Maddie calls her cat a bitch a few times early in the film because it apparently escapes frequently, and even teaches Sarah the sign for the word. Later on, when the killer checks the cat's tag to see if it's Maddie's, it turns out her name actually is "Bitch."
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  • Bring It: After the killer horrifically smashes her hand and tells her that he's coming in, Maddie stops crying and slowly rises to face him, standing behind the screen door. She then dips her finger into her arrow wound and uses the blood to write on the words "DO IT COWARD" on the glass.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Subverted. The killer confiscates all of the phones and cuts power to the house so Maddie can't even call 911 over Facetime.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Multiple. The smoke detector that goes off at the beginning of the movie being used later to disorient the killer is the most expected, but the can of bug spray and the corkscrew are harder to catch.
  • The Collector: Being a Serial Killer, the killer likes to take trophies from his victims. He's seen taking one of Sarah's earrings and John's watch.
  • Determinator: Maddie almost loses her life at several points in the film, first from massive blood loss and then from strangulation, but she triumphs in the end.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: John gets his throat slashed by the killer. As the killer investigates, John leaps forward and puts him in a chokehold, yelling for Maddie to run. She can't run because of the possibility of her death and he bleeds out before he can choke the killer to death, but it's the thought that counts.
  • Evil Gloating: The killer loves taking his time and watching people suffer slowly. It screws him over multiple times.
The Man: I can come in any time I want. I can get you any time I want.
  • Fatal Flaw: The killer, being a sociopath, has pride as his. He's so sure of himself that he's in control of the situation that he repeatedly makes mistakes.
  • Fingore: Maddie's hand gets totally mangled when the killer traps it in a sliding door and gives it several stomps.
  • For the Evulz: The unnamed killer has no apparent motivation except to harm and kill for fun.
  • Handicapped Badass: Maddie, being completely deaf as well as mute, and also having a mangled hand by the end of the film.
  • Hate Sink: The nameless serial killer is an odious monster who takes every opportunity he can to be a total bastard.
  • The Hermit: Maddie, who has apparently been living alone for about a year now, with only her cat and neighbors to keep her company.
  • Heroic Second Wind: As the killer tries to strangle Maddie to death, her life flashes before her eyes. This is what gives her the final bit of strength to grab the corkscrew and put her tormentor down for good.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Maddie manages to shoot the killer with his own crossbow. While it's not enough to kill him, it hinders him.
  • Hope Spot: John shows up at Maddie's house looking for Sarah and is confronted by the killer. He quickly sees through the killer's wounded policeman act, tricks him into turning his back, and grabs a large rock. Just when it looks like he's about to save the day, Maddie frantically bangs on the glass to warn him, not knowing he's already figured it out. Before John can turn his attention back to the killer, he's stabbed in the throat.
  • Implacable Man: Downplayed with the killer: while he can take a decent amount of punishment and is relentless in his pursuit of his victims, he still reacts to pain even if he's able to keep coming quickly. During the climax, the damage he's taking begins to clearly hinder him.
  • Improvised Weapon: Maddie finishes off the killer by shish-kebabing his throat with a corkscrew.
    • She also uses a hammer, a kitchen knife, a can of pesticide, and even a smoke alarm.
  • Karmic Death: The killer executes John by stabbing him in the throat and John bleeds to death while trying to strangle him. Maddie ultimately does the killer in the exact same way.
  • Kick the Dog: The killer loves doing this. He frequently gets Maddie's hopes up only to dash them again and again, and fully intended to nail Maddie's cat to her door. Thankfully, he never gets the chance to do so.
  • Knife Nut: The killer's second weapon is a combat knife. He seems to prefer using his bow to wear down a weaken his victims then stab them to death with his knife.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The killer has a whole lot of fun exploiting Maddie's deaf-mute disability throughout the film. Then comes the climax, where he's about to deliver the killing blow on Maddie, only to be maced in the eyes with bug spray. And after she's blinded him, she turns on her incredibly loud smoke alarm with the strobe light effect, taking away his hearing and disorienting him even further.
  • Logical Weakness: The serial killer might be a dangerous sociopath, but he's still a normal human. He's not omniscient like many killers and has to actively find Maddie to do anything to her. Maddie takes advantage of this to trick him multiple times. He also still needs to see and hear, as such having an intentionally overpowered fire alarm go off directly in his face incapacitates him and gives Maddie an opening to fight back.
  • Male Gaze: We get a good look at Sarah's cellphone for a few seconds, which is in the back of her pants pocket.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: But he removes it not even an hour into the film after Maddie tells him she hasn't seen his face and won't tell anyone she saw him.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Maddie experiences this when the killer strangles her until she was close to dying.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Maddie frantically pounds on the door in an attempt to let John know not to trust the killer. She doesn't know he's already figured it out, and the distraction allows the man to stab John in the throat, killing him.
  • No Name Given: The killer is never named, and he's credited simply as "Man".
  • Not Quite Dead: John, briefly.
  • One-Word Title
  • Precision F-Strike:
    The Man: You fucking cunt.
  • Rasputinian Death: The Killer gets nearly strangled to death by John, shot in the chest with his own crossbow, has a kitchen knife stabbed up to its handle into his leg, has bug spray shot in his eyes, and finally dies by having a corkscrew driven through his throat. Downplayed, however, as each wound clearly severely hampers him and he's clearly enraged by the end likely driving him via adrenaline rush.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Maddie manages to steal the killer's crossbow, but has an unbelievably difficult time trying to load it, given her inexperience with such a weapon. She only manages to score a direct hit on the killer when he's distracted and doesn't get the chance to fire a second one.
    • The killer is bigger and stronger than Maddie and Sarah, but John is bigger and stronger than him. The killer outright admits that if he'd had to fight him head on, he'd have lost, and even with a Slashed Throat, John nearly kills him.
  • Red Herring: The beginning of the film makes it seem as if Maddie's needy ex-boyfriend Craig will enter the picture at some point later in the film. He never shows up. Sarah's boyfriend John does, though.
    • Also Sarah's cellphone.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Sarah.
  • Serial Killer: This is clearly not the killer's first time. When Maddie manages to take away his crossbow, she notices thirteen notches carved into the side.
  • Silence Is Golden: The movie is about 90 minutes long, and has less than 15 minutes of dialogue. Partly because it has a deaf and mute protagonist.
  • Silent Antagonist: At least until he takes off his mask.
  • Slashed Throat: How John meets his end. Also a slight subversion in that the killer clearly expects John to just lie down and die as soon as his windpipe is cut, but he puts up a good long fight before he expires.
    • It's also how the killer dies at Maddie's hands.
  • Smug Snake: The killer is very full of himself. Though not so much that he won't acknowledge his own lack of strength or fighting skills after John nearly chokes him to death. Even his mask has a wide smirk for a mouth.
  • The Sociopath: The killer, obviously. He has a serious Lack of Empathy, is seemingly doing all this for stimulation including drawing things out needlessly for the fun of it, and his Fatal Flaw is his grandiose sense of self worth.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: The killer never raises his voice in anger and retains a calm demeanor, even when his anger is visible in his words. Despite this, he's clearly a hedonistic Serial Killer.
  • Stupid Evil: The killer could easily have murdered Maddie while her back was turned, but instead he tipped her to his presence as part of a "game" to toy with her. This gets him killed in the end.
  • Tattooed Crook: The killer has a visible tattoo on his neck.
  • Tempting Fate: The killer comments on how Maddie will likely try and shoot him and miss. Cue her shooting him in the chest and wounding him.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The Serial Killer looks relatively normal underneath his mask and is also of rather average build. This is all the more noticeable because he removes his mask very early on, as most of his fright factor comes from his expressions rather than his appearance.
  • Tired of Running: Maddie decides to stop running after the killer kills John and start fighting back.
    Maddie: (in her head) Can't run, hide, or wait. What does that leave? (in sign language, and mouthing the words) Kill him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The killer, surprisingly. He treats the situation like a game and has little to no sense of caution. His willingness to write off Maddie or John as mere victims he could play with nearly gets him killed more than once. His decision to steal one of Sarah's earrings as a trophy is what gives him away to John later. Near the end, he actually stops to smoke a cigarette and have a conversation with Maddie's cat. If he wasn't so concerned with describing to the cat how he intended to nail it to the door, he might have avoided that arrow to the chest. His Suicidal Overconfidence hinders him every step of the way.
  • Tranquil Fury: Maddie manages to stab the killer's arm with the back of a hammer and while it clearly enrages him, he remains calm.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Oh boy, does Maddie have a bad night. She's psychologically tormented by a killer who knows she is deaf and mute and exploits it as cruelly as possible. She's faced with the vicious killings of her neighbors Sarah and John. She's horribly wounded throughout the night, getting an arrow shot into her thigh, her hand smashed and stomped, badly kicked and beaten, nearly strangled, and losing a lot of blood. This is all on top of her tragic backstory in which she lost her ability to hear and speak as a teenage girl.
  • Unwanted Assistance: The movie might have ended a lot sooner and a lot less bloody if Maddie hadn't tried to warn John of danger just as he was about to get the jump on the killer.
  • Villainous Breakdown: While remaining somewhat composed, the killer is clearly enraged and furious once Maddie stabs him in the leg.
  • Weapon of Choice: The Serial Killer uses a crossbow and a combat knife as his preferred murder weapons.
  • White Mask of Doom: It's right there in the poster.
    • Despite the killer's face not being shown in any promotional material, he actually removes the mask very early in the film and never puts it back on.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • The killer pulls this on John when he arrives, pretending to be a police officer who was knocked out while investigating an emergency call. Given the killer's very apparent sketchiness, John doesn't buy it for long, especially when Sarah's earring falls out of his pocket.
    • Maddie turns the tables on him by pretending to be more incapacitated than she actually is, luring him close enough to spray bug spray in his eyes.

Example of: