M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 26, 2016. Available on Netflix!

HUSH (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike Flanagan
Starring Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, Emma Graves

Mike Flanagan first made waves with the simple, yet effective short OCCULUS: THE MAN WITH THE PLAN, which lead to a big budget version of the film from the director. Now, Flanagan offers up one of the most perfect stalk and slash films you’re bound to see this year with HUSH.

Kate Siegel plays Maddie, a deaf but independent writer who lives in a cabin in the middle of the woods (always a bad place to be in horror movies), who is struggling to complete her latest novel. While debating which of her many endings she has written up to use, a masked stalker (played by John Gallagher Jr. from 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE) decides it’s prime time to play fucked up mind games with her—toying with her and threatening to kill her, seemingly just for the sport. Now Maddie must use her wit, gumption, and noggin to outsmart the assailant outside, despite her handicap.

What is most impressive about HUSH is its simplicity. In the opening moments, much like HALLOWEEN, we are privy to an assailant outside of Maddie’s home before she is. There are more than one scene where the stalker is standing right outside of the window in the background while Maddie is going about her nightly chores without a clue death is lingering a window pane away. In HUSH’s opening moments one can’t help but compare it to the original HALLOWEEN as Flanagan really does know how to hide the threat in the background in the very same way Carpenter did in the series that made him a haunted household name. It’s no wonder that Flanagan was once considered for the HALLOWEEN remake.

But while HALLOWEEN continues to tell the tale of a faceless murderer stalking an unsuspecting babysitter, HUSH deviates from the mold by having the killer unmask early in the film. That’s my main and only grievance with HUSH as the unmasking lessens some of the scariness going on substantially as the emotionless mask is quite disturbing. Yet it takes the danger to a much more dire level as the victim has now seen the killer’s face and he simply can’t leave her alive now. This leads to one of the best cat and mouse sequences you’re bound to see. Sure, the killer can break in any time, but the killer here is playing with his victim and the danger that Maddie is but a window pane away from the killer makes every scene in this seemingly glass house all the more terrifying and threatening. Watching Maddie go through one plan after another to escape is maddening as the killer seems to be one step ahead of her the entire time. Flanagan orchestrates this terrifying Tom and Jerry cartoon with finesse most filmmakers simply are unable to fathom, leading to a climax that truly will make you occupy the seat’s edge.

On top of all of the fun tension and danger buildup, I loved the writer’s aspect of this film. Seeing how the writer’s mind works is always something of great interest to me and Flanagan exemplifies one of the most important characteristics of the writer and makes it crucial to the plot itself. This understanding of how the creative mind works and ability to articulate it within the story in such a seamless and meaningful fashion makes HUSH doubly impressive. HUSH is a film that excels in tension, terror, chills, thrills, and finally smarts in terms of how a writer seems the world and opposition. Maddie is one of the strongest female characters you’re bound to find in horror this year. I can’t recommend HUSH more to those who appreciate the stalk n’ slash genre as well as those who are a sucker for insight on the creative process. HUSH is a smart, captivating, and downright excellent little film no one should miss.

Click here for the trailer!

THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!

#23 – HUSH
#28 – BASKIN

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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