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Film / Hush

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"I can come in any time I want. And I can get you any time I want. But I'm not going to. Not until it's time. When you wish you're dead."
The Man

Hush is a 2016 slasher film directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan, and stars co-writer Kate Siegel (Flanagan's wife), John Gallagher Jr., and Michael Trucco.

The film centers around deaf-mute horror author Maddie Young (Siegel), who lost her ability to hear and speak as a teenager, as she leaves her home in New York City for an isolated life in the woods in hopes of advancing her successful writing career.

However, such a setting proves to be less than ideal when a masked killer begins to terrorize Maddie, forcing her into a fight for her life.

Of special note is that in the film, Maddie is seen working on a sequel to a published novel of hers, which is titled The Midnight Mass. Said novel would make a cameo appearance in Flanagan's later film Gerald's Game, and Flanagan eventually adapted this fictional novel into Midnight Mass for Netflix.

Not to be confused with the 1998 thriller of the same title starring Jessica Lange and Gwyneth Paltrow.

This film contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: Maddie's novel, that she's writing a sequel to, is called The Midnight Mass.
  • 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
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: During the climax, Maddie uses her "writer's brain" to consider multiple scenarios which all end in her death, before figuring out what she has to do.
  • Ax-Crazy: The killer. Who of sound mind would go on a psychotic killing spree for nothing more than For the Evulz?
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The Man declares to Maddie's cat, who started hanging out next to him, that he's going to kill her and nail her to the front of the house, only to get shot by Maddie with his own crossbow.
  • 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.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Both played straight and subverted. The killer tries to pose as a police officer, using nothing but a flashlight, an authoritative voice, and some improvised cop lingo. John cooperates with him initially, but very quickly notices the holes in his story and becomes suspicious.
  • Big Bad: The unnamed Serial Killer tormenting Maddie.
  • The Big Guy: The killer describes John as a "linebacker type" and says he would only give himself 2 out of 10 in a fair fight with him.
  • 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, the latter of which is going to impede her ability to communicate and write for a long while, and she'sundoubtedly 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."
  • 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 the words "DO IT COWARD" on the glass.
  • Cats Are Mean: Despite having a tendency to run out and being named "Bitch", the cat is pretty mellow, nestling calmly near a psychotic killer, who says out loud that he's going to kill her and nail her body to the house, and then her owner, once she kills the aforementioned killer and called the cops.
  • Call-Back: The killer says he won't come into the house to kill Maddie until she begs him to end her suffering. In the end, she challenges him to finish her off.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Before leaving, Sarah mentions that her boyfriend John will be home for dinner. Later, Maddie tries to log into her neighbors' wifi, which is named "Sarah and John" to remind the viewer of John's existence. Sure enough, John shows up looking for Sarah in the second act.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Maddie tells Sarah that she has "writer's brain," which allows her to come up with scenarios that readers don't expect. Later, we see her use her writer's brain when analyzing all the possible endings to her own story.
  • Combat Pragmatist: After the killer finally gets into the kitchen to kill Maddie, by this point she's already resolved to kill him first. She uses her smoke detector, which is loud as all hell and flashes very brightly, to disorient him by holding it directly in his face, blinds him with bug spray during their struggle, and when he has her pinned and almost strangled her to death, she manages to reach for a corkscrew lying across from her and drive it through his neck, delivering the killing blow.
  • 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.
  • Country Matters: The killer calls Maddie a "fucking cunt" just before the climactic fight.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: While the killer is quite sadistic in disposing of his victims, it's he himself who ultimately suffers this. Maddie puts him through a long round of Sensory Abuse in revenge for his long torment, then drives a corkscrew through his throat and gouges it out, which results in him choking to death on his own blood very, very slowly.
  • Daydream Surprise: In the third act, Maddie imagines the many ways she meets her end at the hands of the killer. The very first one, where she is brutally stabbed to death while trying to run away, doesn't give away that it is imagination at first, making it as though The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Deathly Unmasking: The inverse variation of this trope is invoked when Maddie tries to convince the masked serial killer that, since she has no idea who he is, he can just leave without killing her. He removes his own mask - clearly to inform her that he doesn't care if she sees his face because he isn't going to let her get out alive. However, Maddie survives the film.
  • 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.
  • Disability Immunity: Maddie deliberately exploits this in the final act, by activating her ear-splittingly loud fire alarm to disorient the killer, while she can't hear it at all.
  • Dramatic Irony: Blissfully unaware, Maddie takes phone calls and pecks away at her laptop while a serial killer skulks around her home, sometimes within only a few feet of her.
  • 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 Overlord List: The Man falls prey to several of these, indulging in Evil Gloating, and I Shall Taunt You
  • 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.
  • Evil Is Petty: At one time the killer attempts to kill Maddie’s cat and nail it to her door just to torment her even more.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The film takes place within less than twenty-four hours.
  • Eye Scream: The Man is blinded near the end of the film with hornet killer spray, though he recovers quickly after that.
  • 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 that eventually lead to his death. He also has the characteristic poor impulse control, something that only gets worse the angrier he gets.
  • Fingore: Maddie's hand gets totally mangled when the killer traps it in a sliding door and gives it several stomps.
  • Foreshadowing: At the beginning, Maddie goes through a list of different potential endings for the novel she is writing. While trying to figure out how to escape the killer later on, she goes through several different ways in which this can occur.
  • For the Evulz: The unnamed killer has no apparent motivation except to harm and kill for fun.
  • Genre Deconstruction: The movie treats the slasher as a normal human rather than the borderline or actual supernatural threat they are in most movies.
    • The killer knows Maddie is in the house...somewhere. He doesn't know her exact location at any given moment and thus has to search around to find where she is. Maddie is able to take advantage of this multiple times, especially since she knows the layout of her house well and the killer doesn't.
    • 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.
    • The Slashed Throat is an example in and of itself: it's not an instant kill and John is still able to nearly pull a Taking You with Me before expiring. It was a lethal wound, but a thin knife stab doesn't have much stopping power. This is shown when Maddie finally kills the killer by stabbing him in the throat with a much wider, thicker corkscrew that'd cause a lot more structural damage before wrenching it back out and thus is more instantly lethal.
    • The killer might be a dangerous sociopath...but he's still just a human being and receiving repeated severe injuries seriously impedes him.
    • Near the end, Maddie uses her writer's brain, the process she uses to form the endings for her stories to visualize the scenarios on how to survive; she realizes that she'll die and bleed out if she tries to hide due to injuries, she can't outrun the Man because of her leg, and she can't go back to the hiding spot under the porch because the man knows that she used that spot before.
    • The killer is a dangerous sociopath which also means he has the same flaws, most notably poor impulse control. a tendency towards sadism and extreme overconfidence that allow Maddie to gain the upper hand despite his clear advantages.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: John was a smoker and the Man is much obliged to help himself to the deceased's cigarettes.
  • 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. Unlike most movie serial killers, not only is he sadistic but he's also clearly very stupid, and goes out of his way to be as cruel to his victims as possible just because he can. Which makes it all the better when his pointless sadism ends up backfiring on him multiple times most satisfyingly.
  • The Hermit: Maddie, who has apparently been living alone in a secluded woodland house for about a year now, with only her cat for company. Her sister says that she worries about her being all alone. Maddie counters that her deafness has isolated her plenty throughout her life. She is friends with her nearest neighbors, however.
  • 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.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Maddie's cat is referred to as a bitch, because that's her name.
  • 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.
    • A rare villainous Example, The Man has got Maddie trapped and is choking her to death with her life flashing before her eyes it looks like the killer might end up winning after all… until Maddie gets a sudden burst of adrenaline and stabs him in the neck killing him and saves herself.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Refreshingly averted. This might be the first slasher movie in history where it's the killer that keeps making stupid mistakes instead of the protagonist.
    • However, Maddie is still guilty of this several times. Most obviously, we see she has a rack full of kitchen knives, but only ever takes one and NEVER bothers replacing it when she loses it.
  • 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.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Twice. First, the killer stabs John in the throat with his combat knife. Second, Maddie stabs the killer in the throat with a corkscrew. Neither John nor the killer survive for much longer afterwards.
  • Improvised Weapon: Maddie uses a smoke detector and bug spray to fight off the killer during the climax and ultimately finishes him off by shish-kebabing his throat with a corkscrew.
  • 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.
  • Kill Tally: When Maddie gets ahold of the killer's crossbow she finds this on the side.
  • 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. This is to tell Maddie, he has no intention of letting her live.
  • Minimalism: Aside from a limited cast, the whole film takes place in Maddie's house and its surroundings.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only five actors in the whole movie.
  • 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 "The Man".
  • Non-Indicative Name: Maddie's cat is named Bitch, despite that fact that she's a cat, not a dog.
  • Not Quite Dead: John seems to die after having his throat cut, but he makes one last attempt to choke out the killer before dying of blood loss.
  • Not the First Victim: Maddie gets ahold of the killer's crossbow only to find a series of tally marks on the side. It is pretty clear what these are meant to signify.
  • One-Word Title: Hush
  • Precision F-Strike: The killer says, "You fucking cunt!" to Maddie.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Also Sarah's cellphone.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Sarah dies in the opening few minutes to establish the killer's threat.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: To the first Die Hard; The Man pickpockets John's corpse and finds cigarettes, saying that they're really bad for one's health, only to go smoke one himself; John McClane says something similar after killing one of the terrorists and looting the corpse, despite being a chain-smoker who helps himself to the cigarettes.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: The Man is extremely dangerous...but Maddie's one advantage in the situation is that he's an Ax-Crazy Sadist with difficulty reigning in his impulses. While reasonably competent and intelligent, the entire reason Maddie stands a chance is he can't resist toying with her for fun.
  • 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.
  • 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. This plays a big part in how Maddie is able to get the drop on him seeing as he takes just a second too long to gloat to himself when he has a knife to her throat without her realizing it, and she becomes aware of his presence.
  • 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 and inability to reign in his impulses.
  • 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 psychopathic 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. He also continues trying to kill her even when he's suffered serious injuries, in part because he intentionally let her see his face. 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 actions 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. It is also what finally get him killed seeing as he takes a second too long to gloat to himself when he is hiding in the bathtub behind Maddie waiting to strike which allows her to realize he is there and remove the element of surprise thereby kicking off the final confrontation with him at a severe disadvantage.
  • 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.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Maddie is both deaf and mute.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The killer is initially completely confident that he can toy with Maddie and take his time tormenting her before he kills her. However, she quickly proves herself to be a lot more resourceful, clever, and vicious than he expected. She's the one who kills him in the end.
  • 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: The killer gradually gets more and more frustrated and enraged as Maddie proves far less helpless than he originally believed. While remaining somewhat composed, the killer is clearly enraged and furious once Maddie stabs him in the leg.
    The Killer: I think that you're holding out on me. I bet if I hit the right spot… I can make you scream. You fucking cunt.
  • White Mask of Doom: The killer wears a white mask when he kills Sarah, but after Maddie tries to bargain with him about having not seen his face, he takes it off to let her know that he fully intends to kill her as well.
  • Within Arm's Reach: After disorienting the Serial Killer antagonist with by holding a piercing loud smoke alarm in his face and spraying insecticide in his eyes, it looks like Maddie's done for when he has her pinned to the floor with his hands around her neck, but she manages to just barely grab a corkscrew lying on the floor and kills him by plunging it into his neck.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • With his throat already cut and bleeding out, John lies down and seems to die, letting the killer lower his guard before suddenly leaping at him and putting him in a choke hold.
    • 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.
  • You Are Already Dead: After the killer stabs John in the throat, he tells John, "It's done." No matter how much John fights back, he's still going to die, which he does.