YEAR RELEASED: 2009
DIRECTOR: Mark Tonderai
CAST: William Ash, Christine Bottomley, Andreas Wisniewski, Claire Keenlan, Stuart McQuarrie and Robbie McGee.
REVIEWED BY ANDREW GARVEY
Best known for directing The House at the End of the Street, a much-delayed 2012 film that took a bit of a kicking from the critics for its dull derivativeness, Mark Tonderai’s previously work, which he both wrote and directed was far more impressive.
Oppressively tense, scarily believable and very English, Hush is a great low budget horror/thriller.
With a small cast and locations limited mostly to the interior of a car and motorway service stations on a long, rainy night, there’s a huge amount of pressure on the writer/director to squeeze value out of every word and every shot. And Tonderai is up to the challenge.
Struggling with the motivation and time to write the novel he keeps banging on about, Zakes (William Ash) has a dead end job putting up and taking down posters in motorway service stations. His girlfriend Beth (Christine Bottomley) despairs of his wasteful ways and has long since decided to end their relationship.
Trapped in a car together, talking in that carefully measured way to try and avoid the inevitable arguments, both characters are well drawn, well played and, even as they bicker about their small, and quite sad lives, relatable and oddly likeable. Putting a disintegrating couple in danger isn’t exactly a new concept but Hush does it particularly well.
Zakes gets a brief glimpse something horrifying in the back of a truck and while he may not be anyone’s idea of a hero, when pushed, and with no-one else to rely on (the Police being largely useless), he’s forced to do something.
Much of the film follows Zakes on his increasingly desperate mission and the more abuse he takes, and the more obstacles he faces, the more admirable he becomes. This shouldn’t be difficult to achieve, but since so many films fail to actually make their protagonist the hero, perhaps it is.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the narrative to be constantly compelling without ever getting silly, and while there’s some brutal violence and some gore, it’s always effective and never overdone.
There’s just one moment that accidentally strays into slapstick territory but the rest of the way, the film stays its consistently grim and tension-filled course.
Hush takes itself seriously. And it should do. It’s very, very good.
ANDREW GARVEY lives in Staffordshire. He writes (infrequently) about mixed martial arts, professional wrestling, history, horror and folklore. Follow him on Twitter: @AMGarvey Check out more Andrew Garvey articles for the Spooky Isles here.