As Zakes (Will Ash) and Beth (Christine Bottomley) speed along the M1 late at night, stopping at various service stations to allow him to put posters up, they catch a glimpse of a naked woman in the back of a lorry that stops suddenly in front of them. After an argument about what they’ve seen, bringing to a head their tumultuous relationship, Beth mysteriously vanishes. Believing her disappearance has something to do with the lorry, Zakes embarks on a chase to save the one he loves.
Although the narrative is fairly derivative, Hush is rooted in its ability to create an overwhelming sense of unease, rather than relying on cheap tricks to elicit scares. First-time writer and director Mark Tonderai may be too inexperienced to create a balanced screenplay (the dialogue itself is more than questionable), but he does show competence in his direction, using elements such as tight-knit camera angles, scratchy cinematography and Theo Green’s unnerving score.
However, it doesn’t all solidify as well as you’d hope. Some of the clichés are just too obnoxious to ignore, such as the initial reluctance of the police to help, or the dropping of a pin in a tense moment. Still, the fact remains that Tonderai does his utmost to maintain a remarkable level of believability for the proceedings by touching on some rather serious topics, such as what you would do upon seeing something so suspicious and how much we care about those we don’t know. There’s method in the madness.
It also benefits from the believable central character of Zakes – a relatively down-to-earth man forced to adapt to life or death situations. Ash proves himself a worthy lead, eliciting a wealth of cardinal emotions as his night devolves farther and farther into a horrifying nightmare. It’s a film that more or less relies on Ash’s capability, so its a relief to see him so attuned to the material.
Hush may not be the best example of a pertinent horror, but it’s a tightly-paced, suspenseful cat-and-mouse British thriller nonetheless. It falters towards the end when it overshoots its scope, but when there’s so much that works, it’s hard to let these omissions harm what is, for all intents and purposes, a satisfying motor-driven piece of low-budget cinema.