Made in Britain: Hush (2009)

Hush-poster

Hush. What a terrible title. Not only is it utterly unevocative, but furthermore it’s just totally imaginative. If I say “Hush” it instantly conjures up images of parents struggling to keep control of errant and annoying children, or if you’re nerdy enough, a Batman villain. At a stretch it reminds me of a terrible Kula Shaker song from the 90’s. What it does not help me visualise is a taut thriller about a couple on a motorway near Sheffield (God’s Chosen City) being menaced by a nutter.

Contains human trafficking and spoilers below.

Hush owes an enormous debt to three films. The first is Stephen Spielberg’s Duel, the second is the grossly underrated thriller Roadkill, and the third is the Kurt Russell vehicle (no pun intended) Breakdown. Having said that, I bet you can’t guess what sort of film this is. As such, what we have here is a decent little thriller, that may be a touch too generic, but one that plays out tropes that you would expect to see in this kind of film with no little finesse.

Zakes (William Ash) and his girlfriend Beth (Christina Bottomley) are enduring a somewhat torrid motorway journey. Their relationship is in freefall, and there are insinuations that she’s cheated on him recently. However, the real source of their problems is that his terrible job involves driving around the country putting up posters in service stations and then taking pictures of them. As such his life is unstable, and he’s fighting any further form of commitment from her.

It’s a horrible dark and stormy evening, with the rain pelting down, and driving conditions are severely dangerous. When the truck in front aquaplanes on surface water the rear door opens revealing a woman in a cage inside. Zakes sees it, but Beth doesn’t. Nevertheless, they make an attempt to find out if it’s true, and run down the mobile phone calling the police reporting it. Sadly, it’s a white truck with an obscured number plate so they can’t give an accurate description.

The look on Beth's face let him know that anal was off the cards again tonight.

The look on Beth’s face let him know that anal was off the cards again tonight.

Eventually, Zakes makes the disastrous (and selfish) decision to turn off so he can put some posters up. This incites Beth into a frenzy, and she tells him to stick it, and pisses off to make a call from a public pay phone. After an argument with some football fans, Zakes realises he’s in error so goes to try to find her, only to discover that she’s disappeared, and the trucker is on to his investigations.

We’re now into a deadly game of cat and mouse as Zakes strives to rescue Beth before the inevitable rape and torture that’s heading her way. Dismayed to find his car vandalised, Zakes carjacks an old woman to give pursuit of the truck. Can he save his girlfriend from her grisly fate?

This is a good film. Ash and Bottomley are convincing as the young couple, and the time we spend in the car with them is vital to making us care about these characters. They aren’t, and this is a nice touch, particularly likable or heroic, rather they’re a totally normal young couple who, through no fault of their own, land themselves in a world of hurt. We do root for Zakes as he compounds disaster upon disaster, and the ending is entirely suitable for his character, and satisfying as a result.

Zakes knew he'd made a mistake by going to the ladies' loo.

Zakes’ 10 O’clock appointment with George Michael turned out to be a very bad idea indeed.

This was Mark Tonderai’s first film. As such, he does a cracking job. The service station is a stunningly banal setting, and to manage to generate some of the tensest scenes in the film in such an enormously mundane locale is a real achievement. Furthermore, he’s following a much trod path and as he has the blue print from the aforementioned three films, he has no real need to deviate from it. He handles the film with no little assurance, and it’s not a surprise to see him go on to bigger films with last year’s Jennifer Lawrence vehicle.

That’s not to say that Hush is a superb film. It isn’t. There’s a bad case of third act meltdown. Spoilers ahead, by the by.

Eventually, the script has painted itself into a corner. Zakes has stolen a car with no petrol, is on the run from the police and struggling to keep up with the truck. So, to solve this, he hooks up with Wendy (Claire Keelan), who has allegedly just escaped from the trucker. They then move to an old couple’s house where a twist you can see coming a mile away takes place.

Zakes' impromptu game of hide and seek had taken a worrying turn

Zakes’ impromptu game of hide and seek had taken a worrying turn

Without being mean, this is an enormous misstep. The film was taut and exciting when it was pared down to minimum, it simply doesn’t need the extra characters adding, not to mention the cut back to the security guards at the service station. I suspect Tonderai (Also on writing duty) is trying to suggest that this is a larger conspiracy than a rogue trucker, but what he actually manages is to dissipate the tension; to allow the viewer to ease out of the film. It’s a shame, actually.

Nevertheless, Hush is a good film. It’s a pity, actually about the third act meltdown because it does detract from what would have been one of the most assured thriller debuts for a long time. There’s a lot to approve of here, and although it is formulaic, I don’t necessarily consider that a massive problem. Hush is a decent time passer, and far from an embarrassment for anyone concerned. Certainly recommended.

Hush-rating

I’m actually, in fact, tempted to watch The House at the End of the Street because of it.

Until next time,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

45 responses to “Made in Britain: Hush (2009)”

  1. Judge Droid says :

    and the ending is suitably.

    Suitably… what!? I’m on the edge of my seat here!

    Another film this sounds like it has a touch of is The Vanishing. A dumbed down version plagued by thriller conventions, but that’s what I thought of reading the description.

    Joyride (aka Roadkill) is a really good movie. And I’ve probably said it before, but the dvd showcases the benefits of reshoots. There’s an option to branch in the original ending, which is actually the last 20 minutes (not some 5 second shot that got cut). The new version is a million times better. But my favourite shot in that movie is Dahl holding the shot of the painting as the lads listen to the room next door. That is brilliant. Dahl is underrated. Now at least.

    The title Hush reminds me of a cheesy thriller from the 90’s starring Jessica Lange and Gwyneth Paltrow. Rubbish film, but quite entertaining courtesy of Lange’s performance and the fact that it’s trashy.

    I’ve seen THATEOTS. It’s not bad for a PG13 thriller movie. Not good by any means, but I expected terrible and got watchable with one terrific jump scare. So that’s better than expected.

    • Jarv says :

      Goddamnit.

      Completely the wrong word. Autocorrect nailed me.

      Fixing now.

    • Jarv says :

      I’ve seen THATEOTS. It’s not bad for a PG13 thriller movie. Not good by any means, but I expected terrible and got watchable with one terrific jump scare. So that’s better than expected.

      Got a sneaky feeling this director may be one to keep tabs on, to be honest. Because this is a good little film, and if THATEOTS is better than expected then he might have something.

      Another film this sounds like it has a touch of is The Vanishing

      Didn’t mention it because of Breakdown. Which is basically the Vanishing with psycho truckers. In fact, the film this is nearest to is Breakdown.

      That’s not a bad film either.

  2. Continentalop says :

    Sounds interesting. Going to have to check it out.

    You ever see ROAD GAMES, an Australia thriller with Stacy Keach & Jamie Lee Curtis? Same vein as the other films you listed.

  3. Continentalop says :

    Also skip LAST STAND (except for you droid – your series and all). Ahnold has not aged very well, but even worse in the film was Johnny “Please stop ‘acting'” Knoxville.

    My friend Christiana looked good in it though.

    • koutchboom says :

      Knoxvillie hardly ruins it. He’s in it for five minutes top, he’s just goofy. It’s a fun movie.

      • Continentalop says :

        I couldn’t stop thinking “Doesn’t this guy ever need to refill his car?”

        Guzman was good in it though.

      • koutchboom says :

        Heheh yeah I thought that as well. And yeah it was more a Guzman and Arnold movie than a Arnold/Knoxville movie like the ads would have you to believe.

        It wasn’t the best movie ever but it was silly fun and fairly inventive.

        And if you thought The Last Stand was bad….wait till you see Die Hard 5, oy vey. Was gonna see Snitch tonight, we got there too late so we snuck into Die Hard, which I figure is the best way to see that movie.

      • koutchboom says :

        Though having read the book driver you can modify your car to hold a bunch of extra gas tanks. What I didn’t get is why wasn’t a tracking device just shot onto his car.

  4. Continentalop says :

    For some reason this HUSH movie is giving me a CHASER vibe, which is a good vibe.

    • Jarv says :

      Korean chaser? Hush isn’t as good as that.

      The best scene is the one I’ve used for a picture- it’s in the service station toilet.

      There are 2 big missteps to it though

  5. tombando says :

    Die Harderest 5 was too A team, liked some but it needed work. As did Bruce, apparently.

    Good to see Conti Pops back. Any Cagney in your viewing list of late?

  6. Bartleby says :

    Technically Hush is a bad Deep Purple song, or even more accurately a bad Billy J. Royal song.

    You know, Iv’e never seen nor heard of this before. It looks like fun. I’ll check it out.

    Conti, how have you been? Good to see you.

    I liked Warm Bodies, thought it was a solid, fun movie but I saw it so early I never had a chance to see the trailers, so it felt halfway original. I think it’s not really lifeless, worth a rental, maybe a matinee. It’s better than Mandy Lane and Wackness but not as good as 50/50.

    I enjoyed Last Stand for what it was, Die Hard 5 was tripe.

    Snitch was fun.

    • Jarv says :

      Yup, technically, it was written for Billy Joe Royal. The Kula Shaker one is particularly horrible.

      That was just before they self destructed by trying to talk about all the good things Hitler did. (Not Joking).

      Kind of ironic given that they were all about Eastern mysticism. Cretins.

      This is a good film, but you’ve seen everything in it elsewhere. Worth a look, and it does pass the time nicely.

  7. Bartleby says :

    HATEOTS is fine direction of a bad script. It’s watchable, but give that director something to sink his teeth into and you’d probably have something fun.

    This always happens to these genre directors when they come to U.S. to make a movie.

    I mean even Vanishing director made an utterly worthless piece of tripe called…The Vanishing here in America.

    But seriously…Antal does Kontroll, and then comes here and does Vacancy, Armored and Predators? WTF?

    Antony Waller does Mute Witness, and follows it up with career killing American Werewolf in Paris?

    • Jarv says :

      Loathed Predators. Utter shit. Orangutan of Doom.

    • koutchboom says :

      John Jacob Jingle Hymerschmidt does the Life of Others comes here and does The Tourist.

      Oliver does Downfall then comes here and does The Invasion (he then followed this up with Five Minutes In Heaven which looked really good but also very European don’t know what country claims it or if its any good no one ever saw it).

      Lasse Hallestroms half brother does Evil then comes here and does 1408, Derailed, The Rite, the new Amsterdam show I think, Shanghai (which I actually want to see) and the upcoming The Tomb (so yeah he’s probably here to stay).

      Sooooo yeah most Eruotrash directors need to stay there.

      ASIAN directors however….have a much more awesomer track record. Too bad The Last Stand was a flop and he took the first boat back to Asian because I would love to see that guy do more American work.

      Hehehehe I’d like to add Let The Right One In guy on this list but fuck Tinker Tailor Sleepy Boring is probably the least American thing ever made.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Who are the Asian directors that have gone to America and succeeded? John Woo sorta kinda, but he’s very hit and miss. Tsui Hark was all miss. Hideo Nakata made The Ring 2 which is abysmal.

        Only one I can think of off the top of my head is Ang Lee. Who else?

      • koutchboom says :

        I never said they succeeded just that they were awesomer. I love Double Team, the last stand fuck, Stroker looks like it could be good. Ronny Yu is fun. Cory Yuen. Kirk Wong is a bit of a reach. And I’m sure whenever Steven Chow comes here it’ll be awesome.

      • koutchboom says :

        And Ang Lee is about as Asian as Ramen Noodles.

      • koutchboom says :

        Also add the JCVD director to the shitty Eurotrash list, he went on to direct The Cold Light Of Day.

        And speaking of The Cold Light Of Day, what ever happened to the director of the great British early 90s thriller with the same name?

      • koutchboom says :

        Like I wonder how big of an inspiration Paul Verhovan is to all these smelly euro fucks.

      • koutchboom says :

        Ohhh Rudolf pulled a typical Eurotrash director move, he just only made it to England before scuttlebutting it back to Holland. God if his attempt at American speaking movies was that good imagine how good his native tongue films are.

  8. ThereWolf says :

    Nice one, Jarv.

    I’ve stuck this on the Lovefilm list. That George Michael caption cracked me up.

    I thought Road Games was decent, the one Conti mentioned. Saw it a long time ago & can’t recall much now. I do remember it having an exploitative poster though…

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