Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mr Hush – review

Director: David Lee Madison

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

I have to say, at the head of the review, that those who know me will realise that what I tend to do for reviews is watch the film (taking screenshots and notes) and then write the review, using IMDb for the actors’ names but avoiding the IMDb reviews until the review is in draft stage at the very least.

I was gobsmacked, therefore, when I saw how low the IMDb headline score was for the film. Now I was given access to a stream of the film by writer/director David Lee Madison, and I have to say that the film isn’t the best I’ve ever seen – but it really doesn’t deserve the derision held in that score. It is also a film featuring Stephen Geoffreys (Fright Night) the year before he did Bite Marks and he really is in cracking form – more on that later.

family moment
So the film starts in October 2010 and in a kitchen oozing domestic bliss we have Holland Price (Brad Loree), his wife Julie (Jessica Cameron) and young daughter Amy (Megan Heckman) as they prepare for Halloween night. Something struck me here, the tone of the acting was melodramatically saccharine and could have been dismissed as poor but I just felt like it was a deliberate tone set to capture an idyll that never really existed except in the minds of those stretching for a halcyon era that was meant to have been. If so then it was brilliant, if not then the tone was set several notches too sweet – I’m plumping for the former.

Brad Loree as Holland
At the end of the night, after trick or treating is completed, there is a late knock at the door. A priest, Father Flannigan (Edward X. Young), is there and tells Holland that his bus full of orphans has broken down further down the road and asks to use his phone. He insists on being invited in and then asks to use the facilities. A couple of points. Firstly, Flannigan’s Irish accent is poor – ok he is pretending to be an Irish priest (he is actually the Mr Hush of the title) but it really wasn’t a good effort. Secondly the invite aspect was too heavy handed. The film plays like a straight slasher until later on when Hush is revealed to be a vampire – this should have had Holland invite him in without being asked, rather than play the trope heavily at this point and thus spoil the twist at this point.

threatening Julie
So, Holland sits himself down until there is a scream and Flannigan appears holding Julie with a knife at her throat. He doesn’t waste much time before he slits her throat (a well done sfx) and suggests that Amy has met a similar fate. Holland legs it upstairs and drops to his knees – we soon discover she is missing, not murdered – and is coshed over the head. This moves into a dentist waiting room and Holland being given gas and air and the dentist being Hush – this is a nightmare Holland has and wakes from, now grey and bearded.

Debbie murdered
It is ten years on and Holland now lives in a tent, with a guy called Donald, and washes dishes for a living. Later we hear that he moves around a lot, still searching for Amy. However, this time around he actually opens his heart to a waitress named Debbie (Connie Giordano) and they start dating. This seems to meet the approval of her daughter, Kat (Alexis Lauren), but just when happiness seems to be on the cards the doorbell rings again, Debbie is murdered and Holland (and Kat) are kidnapped by Hush – Hush is never called so by name but often sings the ditty “Hush, Little baby” to himself.

vampire face
So, Hush is a vampire – the reveal of this is a bit of a damp squib in film both because of the invite hint early on and because the vampire makeup is a bit rubbish to be frank. Actually it is only the makeup – a serious over indulgence in greasepaint, it looks like. The fangs looked good and the copious drooling actually worked. Hush has taken it upon himself to menace and punish Holland’s bloodlines for the “sins” of his grandfather – a dream sequence Holland has with his grandmother could have been better handled to have a bit more relevance.

Stephen Geoffreys as Stark
His lackey is Stark (Stephen Geoffreys) and Geoffreys is magnificent in this, overplaying with a Dwight Frye meets Evil from Fright Night zeal that makes you wish his screen time was much longer. As for Edward X. Young, I actually felt that he might make a rather good Max if the Lost Boys were remade. A gag he makes towards the end and Geoffreys performance betray a want to make the film more comedic than it was and it might have worked better had they pushed it all the way in that direction. I assume Holland was named by combining the names of Tom Holland (Fright Night’s director) and Vincent Price (who is referenced in the Fright Night character Peter Vincent).

Edward X. Young as Mr Hush
The editing could have been tightened, to be fair, and there were noticeable sound inconsistencies. However, I liked the premise of slasher film actually being a vampire movie, I liked the idea of making one person suffer (Holland’s parents were murdered and we assume this was by Hush too – that might have made either a good prologue or a better dream sequence than the grandmother one). Compared to some films this isn’t as bad as the scores on IMDb make out. Of course, as I said at the head of the review, it isn’t the best film either – and I think it lets itself down a bit. And a fair score is probably 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

The film is on demand at Vimeo or available via Amazon:

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