HUSH (2016): Review & Ending Theories
HUSH centers around a writer named Maddie (Kate Siegel) who lives on her own away from the city. We’re introduced to the fact that she’s deaf and mute before becoming the target of a vicious killer with unclear motives. One things for sure, he doesn’t discriminate with his victims, he just tries to use their disabilities against them.
It’s surprises like HUSH that make me love movies. I hadn’t heard about HUSH before turning on Netflix one day and seeing it as a recent add. Thank you Netflix! It came to me with no hype, or preconceived notions of any kind.
The outstanding direction and writing by Mike Flanagan, turn this solid premise into an immersive tension filled ride.
The entire film takes place in and around a secluded home in the woods, with the lighting and camera work giving the viewer an excellent sense of the house layout and space. This is something that’s referred to during an inner monologue near the end of the movie, yet is masterfully illustrated to us without using dialogue throughout the film. This lets us feel the vulnerability and fear right along with Maddie.
Not only is the environment fully fleshed out, so are the characters. This is all done as efficiently as I’ve seen in a long time. Normally character introductions in horror movies are bland and forced with obvious set ups for later. Sure there are set ups early in HUSH, some that you may notice (especially if you watch closely for them like I enjoy doing), but there are some they sneak in under the radar. I love this! Within such a short time you feel a connection with the protagonist so when shit goes down, you’re hooked and along for the ride.
Maddie isn’t the only character that we connect with. The writing does a superb job of making everyone we’re introduced to a real person, even the killer. There are no cartoons or caricatures here. Their actions and decisions, no matter how small, are all very plausible which sounds simple but a lot of horror movies fail horribly with this. When you feel the characters on screen are real people who don’t make dumb decisions, you’re more invested.
Overall, I highly recommend HUSH. It’s more tension and suspense than it is Horror, so if you’re not a fan of scares, don’t be afraid of HUSH.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
Now for a few theories about the final few minutes of the movie. Since you’re reading this part I will assume you’ve seen the movie and don’t need a full recap, so here we go:
Theory #1 – Worth it!
My first reaction to noticing the changes in audio and seeing the smile creep onto Maddie’s face was that the physical trauma she went through while fighting the killer fixed what her childhood surgery broke (pressure in the right spots on her throat specifically). She was able to hear and speak again, and she was smiling when she realized she was able to hear the police sirens approaching. Despite her mangled hand, murdered friend and blood stained furniture (Billy Mays here with Oxi Clean!), the fact that she could hear again trumped all that, and at least a moment, resulted in a smile.
Theory #2 – She wrote the perfect ending.
A theme we are introduced to early in the movie is how to choose the best ending for a story. We see this in Maddies struggle with completing her second book, and it’s continued later when she’s presented with several options during the climax of act 3. She couldn’t run, she couldn’t hide, she choose the aggressive ending and it was the right choice. Her smile was a subtle “hey, I finally wrote the perfect ending”, almost like a little nod to the viewers.
Theory #3 – Supernatural Twist
This one might be a little bat shit, but hear me out. She’s weak and barely alive as she stabs and kills her attacker. The evil presence who was possessing the body of the man, now realizing it needs a new host, makes its jump into Maddie’s body, the closest living person (and takes her over easily because she’s weakened mentally and physically). The evil, now in Maddie’s body, makes a call to 911 because it knows it’s in a weak dying body and isolated from everyone. It either needs a healthier host (maybe the plan is to take the cop’s body), or at least a ride back into civilization in order to get healthy and start up again in Maddie’s body. This is what the smile was at the end, the evil realizing how close it came to being snuffed out but now has a quality lead back to power.
This last theory would explain why the original killer has no known motivation other than to torment, kill and otherwise spread fear and dread.
Hey, these are just theories.