He handcuffed a stranded woman to a bed with little mercy; orchestrated a complex, breathlessly spooky haunted house story; and soon, he’ll bring Danny Torrance back to the screen – Mike Flanagan is no joke.
The horror director’s vision of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House took artistic liberties, but to extraordinary effect – crafting a contemporary old-school fright-fest with disquieting, traumatic ideas that cut deeper than the many, many bumps in the night.
There’s a common thread through Flanagan’s work: our humanity-bred fear of the dark.
Check out the trailer for Hush below:
While his name has ascended into high-profile entertainment stardom, – especially with his upcoming film; Doctor Sleep, an adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining – one only needs to glance back to 2016 to see Flanagan’s investment in the horror game.
Hush dropped on Netflix three years ago, and it’s still recognised as a brilliant, definitively scary slasher. Rather than the hammy theatrics of Crystal Lake’s resident machete-wielding, hockey mask-wearing killer, Flanagan strips the genre down to its most primal metaphor: cat and mouse.
Except, there’s a devilish twist: the story revolves around a deaf and mute writer who has to fight for her life in an isolated, woodland home when a masked killer appears at her window.
It’s a film that specialises in the kind of terror that eats away at your sanity; something Flanagan says is very intentional. The horror director says that the modern trend of jump scares equalling horror only serves to harm the genre.
In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, Flanagan said:
Audiences have grown to equate being startled with being scared, and will complain that a movie ‘isn’t scary enough’ if it doesn’t have enough jump scares… so that means that a lot of studios will insist on shoving jump scares into a movie, regardless of character or story structure, thinking it ‘makes it scarier’.
This fundamental miscommunication between the audience and the studios has resulted in a very unfortunate trend in horror, in my opinion.
Clearly, the man knows his onions. Variety’s Geoff Berkshire wrote: ‘Silence is golden in Hush, one of the more inspired concoctions to emerge from the busy Blumhouse horror-thriller assembly line in recent years.’
The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee wrote: ‘It’s a sharp, finely tuned thriller that goes down familiar paths but with flair and skill. Flanagan doesn’t hold back on the gore, but he doesn’t rely on it.’
In a particularly telling sentiment, Entertainment Weekly’s Clark Collis wrote:
Flanagan’s taut direction reinforces his rep as an up-and-comer we will hopefully be hearing much more from.
Hush is available to watch on Netflix – probably not one for those with heart issues.
Doctor Sleep will arrive in UK cinemas on October 31st.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.