Hell’s Rejects by M.R. Forbes

Literary rating: starstarstarstarhalf
Kick-butt quotient: action2action2action2action2
“I am going to die, surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.”

The heroine in this enjoyable slice of space opera is Lieutenant Abigail Cage. She’s a “breaker” – effectively, a hacker – although one who is highly trained in combat. Her latest mission is to enter a rebel compound and recover a laptop, but the job goes awry, and she finds herself framed for treason after a cache of weapons goes mission, and sent to Hell. No, literally: that’s the name of the planet, and it’s an entirely apt one.

Once imprisoned there, two competing forces come into play. One has interest in using Cage as the guinea-pig for a program to unleash an army of superhumans. The other is Captain Olus Mann, who needs her for quite a different task. Because the rebels have stolen two cutting-edge spaceships, the Fire and the Brimstone, which could tip the balance of the ongoing conflict. Someone needs to find and retrieve them. That someone is Cage, together with a motley crew of other convicts, liberated by Capt. Mann from Hell.

The first in the “Chaos of the Covenant”  series, it strikes a decent enough balance between telling a self-contained tale and luring you in to the next volume. As the tagline at the top – not an actual quote from the book! – suggests, it falls somewhere between, and owes a big debt to, both Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad. With a side order of La Femme Nikita. There’s a big sprawling universe out there, and Cage has to try and wrangle her motley crew of species through a task which rarely seems less than an impossible assignment.

Fortunately, if a little conveniently, Mann has a very discerning eye for personnel, and put together a good team as backup, out of the pieces to hand in the prison. For instance, one is an incredible pilot, another a wiz with machinery, etc. Cage, meanwhile, can keep them all in line, both through her force of personality and with force if necessary. She’s desperate to complete the mission, win her freedom and return to her daughter – who doesn’t even know Mom is in prison, let alone has been broken out in order to chase a stolen spaceship across the galaxy.

Meanwhile, there’s also the side-effects of the experimental injection she received while in Hell. If only apparently half of what she could have received, the effects are impressive, effectively rendering her near-bulletproof. [She can still be shot, it just… doesn’t appear to have any real effect] This could have ended up being a real “Mary Sue,” in the sense of a heroine who is utterly unstoppable. Except those responsible want to track Cage down, and send Trin after the heroine. She is another woman who has gone through both halves of the process, making her a particularly tenacious adversary. This leads to the final epic battle, in a series of what must be said, are largely epic battles.

Yeah, if you’re fond of large-scale destruction, this book certainly delivers. The carnage begins with the scene where the two spaceships are stolen, that escalates into the demolition of an entire spaceport: like many sequences, it seems written with one eye on a cinematic adaptation. Refreshingly free of romantic distractions, this does an excellent job of setting up its universe and populating it with interesting characters, each of whom have their own, interlocking agendas. Indeed, it may perhaps be slightly overstuffed with ideas, species and technology. Better too much invention than too little though, and it’s a series I can see myself picking up subsequent volumes down the road.

Author: M.R. Forbes
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, available through Amazon, both as an ebook and a paperback.

Hundra

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“Blonde barbarians have more fun.”

hundraDirector Cimber seems always to have had an interest in the action-heroine genre, having previously directed Lady Cocoa, he’d go on to do Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold , also starring Landon, and work on Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. But this was likely his best work, a rather inspired Conan knock-off, which both predates and is significantly better than Red Sonja.

The titular heroine (Landon) is left virtually the last of her all-female tribe, after everyone else is slaughtered while she’s out hunting or something. Initially intent on getting revenge, the tribal shaman, Chrysula, then insists Hundra’s more important task is to find a man appropriate to start the job of repopulating them. But our barbarian queen quickly finds out that most men are, indeed, dicks, and not in the sense she hoped either. The remainder of the film is mostly about the task of trying to locate someone worthy of being the father of her child, while also bringing a feminist consciousness to other women, who tend not to be anywhere near as liberated as Hundra.

It certainly starts impressively, with both the massacre and the resulting revenge-based chase (in which the hunters become the hunted), being well-staged and brutally effective. Landon could probably do with some more muscles, particularly in her arms; when she’s clashing blades with guys twice her size, it isn’t entirely convincing, but she largely makes up for that with a fierce personality. After that barn-storming start, the pace does slacken considerably in the middle too, as Hundra goes into “hormonal clock overtime” mode, eventually deciding that Pateray (Oliveros) has the seed worthy of her loins. However, he insists she must first learn how to be a lady, a rather odd concept for the genre – what is this, My Fair Barbarian? However, a strong score from legendary composer Ennio Morricone helps things tick over until the action quotient ramps up again in time for Hundra to pop out the necessary rug-rat and pick up her sword once more.

I believe the producers purchased some of the left-over costumes and props from Conan, which makes sense since the story here is also largely recycling its plot as well. Admittedly, it does so with a significantly enhanced feminist agenda, although this consists as much of portraying men as nothing but mindless boors as anything uplifting. Landon apparently did almost all her own action, and has to be commended for that; credit also Hundra’s dog, who succeeds in out-acting and being more sympathetic than most of the men present. You’ll believe a canine can ride a horse… While I’d be hard-pushed to claim this is great overall, and the inconsistency of tone is occasionally very jarring, there are enough aspects and elements which work, to make this an interesting, generally entertaining watch.

Dir: Matt Cimber
Star: Laurene Landon, John Ghaffari, Marisa Casel, Ramiro Oliveros

Hunted

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“A four-episode story stretched over eight episodes.”

Sam Hunter (George) is an agent for a private intelligence agency, Byzantium. While on a mission in Morocco, she is shot and nearly killed, so opts to go off-grid for a year. She returns to her job, and is assigned the highly risky task of infiltrating a criminal family, who are one of the bidders on a lucrative Pakistani dam project. However, that may not be the biggest threat to Sam’s life, as she knows whoever was behind the attempt in Morocco may well try again, now she has come back out of the shadows. There’s also the question of her own past, involving a dead mother and some severely repressed memories.

Originally pitched as a vehicle for Gillian Anderson – creator Spotnitz was a head writer on The X-Files – the main problem here is likely a structure which demands a second season the show never received. This seems to have come as a surprise to the creators, since they had put together a writing team and planned out storylines. Then, the show was abruptly not renewed, in response to sagging British ratings (the series lost 30% of its viewers over the eight-week run). Even after the BBC pulled the plug, there were hopes Cinemax would continue the show, as it had sustained its audience much better in the US. Those failed to come to fruition either, and the story of Sam Hunter is left frustratingly incomplete.

It’s a shame, because the start and end of the first series had a great deal of promise. Hunter is quickly positioned as someone who is equally competent in both brains and brawn, with the action scenes here being impressively hard-hitting. George carries herself well, with a terse approach to combat that stresses efficiency over flamboyance. The main plot thread here, concerning corruption at the intersection between big business and high level government, is also well considered and not implausible. Kudos also to Patrick Malahide, as crime boss Jack Turner, who projects the right degree of barely-restrained malice, and also Spotnitz, for giving him a better motive than TV villains usually receive.

The problem is the middle episodes, where the show meanders off in half-baked directions likely intended for exploration in the second series that never happened. There are major segments concerning an even more shadowy conspiracy, named “Hourglass,” as well as a creepy-looking dude who takes over the identity of a scientist, and who has a fondness for jabbing syringes into people’s eyeballs. None of this ever comes anywhere close to being resolved, any more than the safe-deposit box key Sam is handed in the final episode. True, it’s not the creators’ fault the show was canceled. However, until the ink is dry on the contract for renewal, it’s probably a good idea to act as if every series will be your last. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with something like this, an infuriating mix of well-crafted elements, thrown away on a bunch of loose ends.

Creator: Frank Spotnitz
Star: Melissa George, Adam Rayner, Stephen Dillane, Stephen Campbell Moore

The Harvesting, by Melanie Karsak

Literary rating: starstarstarhalf
Kick-butt quotient: action2action2action2action2
“Twilight of the Living Dead…”

This is likely the kind of book you enjoy rather than appreciate. While no-one will ever mistake this for great literature – you could go with “ludicrous nonsense,” and I’d not argue much – it’s a fun enough bit of pulp fiction that I kept turning the pages. Layla Petrovich gets a strange call from her Russian grandmother in her hometown, the remote rural community of Hamletville, requesting her presence. When Layla arrives, she finds Grandma, a noted local seer, clearly preparing for something. What isn’t clear, until Layla wakes up to find herself in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

Fortunately, Layla is a bit of a weapons expert – she had moved to Washington D.C. and was working in a museum, specializing in medieval weapons, while giving fencing lessons on the side. What are the odds? So she is soon leading the townsfolk in defense of their realm, while they wait for help to arrive. In the meantime, she has to fend off the unwanted advances of ex-boyfriend Ian and the not-so-unwanted advances of his brother Jamie, deal with her own apparently blossoming psychic talents, and figure out, when the aid eventually shows up, whether it’s quite the kind they want to accept. Hey, who ever said life after the zombie apocalypse would be easy?

There are two aspects that I found memorable here. The first is the psychic angle, which is largely at odds with the straightforward, two-fisted zombie slaying otherwise present. It doesn’t serve much purpose here, to be honest: there is only one supernatural revelation that matters, and you wonder why Granny didn’t simply tell Layla, “You need to get ready for this, that and the other, dear.” However, it adds some off-kilter atmosphere that’s welcome – and perhaps explains why her hit-rate with firearms is close to 100%, despite never having picked one up before going to Grandma’s house. She has the second telescopic-sight, hohoho.

The other thing is the way the story takes an abrupt right-turn at about the two-thirds point, with the zombies being entirely abandoned as a threat, and replaced by… Well, let’s just say, I didn’t see that coming. It’s not the smoothest of transitions, and feels like two separate novels ended up mashed into one file, thanks to an error in the Kindle factory. Yet it perhaps makes some logical sense given the circumstances. On the other hand, the new enemy have a convenient weakness, rendering them astonishingly vulnerable – except their leader, for reasons never made clear, but presumably to avoid the final battle with Layla being over in 0.7 seconds.

Outside the heroine, the rest of the characterization is limited, to put it mildly. While Ian and Jamie gets the most sentences, they’re never much more than cyphers, who exist purely as the other two sides of the love-triangle. Hardly anyone else stands out – save perhaps Buddie, the bow-wielding woodsman who appears to have wandered in on a guest appearance from The Walking Dead. Karsak saves the enthusiasm for the decapitations and brain-splatter, as you’d expect from the very first line: “If you ever need to slice someone’s head off, this is the blade you want.” Providing you’re fine with that, you’ll be fine with this as well.

Author: Melanie Karsak
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, available through Amazon, both as an ebook and a paperback.

Heroines of F.U.R.Y.

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“The world’s first microbudget superheroine wrestling soft-porn film.”

Given the cover, you might reasonably have expected one of the above, but if you saw the rest coming, you’re a better judge of cinematic dreck than I am. It’s hard to work out exactly who would form an overlap between the various potential audience sections here. And even someone not averse to any of the categories (I’d probably qualify) might well be turned off by the poor production values and overall shoddy quality of this.

The film is set in “Metro City”, which was my first surprise, because a lazy reading of the synopsis had me believing this was “Mexico City”. My bad. Turns out Omega is putting together a squad of super-powered heroines, having discovered that someone, somewhere appears to be abducting their colleagues. Nothing good can come of this, naturally. The main focus is Cosmic Girl (Lane), who has only gained her costume and secret identity relatively recently, so is still coming to terms with her situation. But she’s just one of a slew of caped crusaders, including – I’ll pause to take a deep breath, and copy-paste from my notes here – Lady Victory, Sunder, Spyder, Starlet, Dusk and Lilith.

Which wouldn’t necessarily be bad, if it had delivered something along the lines of the wonderful, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. But the actual tone becomes creepily apparent here almost immediately. In the first scene featuring Lady Victory, we’re treated to close-ups of her feet, cleavage, butt, crotch and cleavage again, before we get to see her face. Sadly, this turns out to be an accurate indication of the movie’s priorities, with the eye of the camera adopting a highly fetishistic approach to its subjects. That’s when the film isn’t toppling over entirely, such as the 10-minute sequence of Cosmic Girl masturbating on her bed, in full costume, which ends up coming – a word used advisedly – about the width of her gusset elastic from being hardcore porn.

Then there are the scenes in a wrestling ring. For it turns out, part of the point of the abductions is to put together a forced “fight club” for these “metahumans”, which is streamed online. The losers also have their powers stolen. Which is an idea with some potential. Or, rather, it might have, if anyone involved could actually fight, or give a credible illusion of fighting: this isn’t exactly Lucha Underground, shall we say. It turns out to be little more than a thinly-disguised excuse for some sub/dom play.

Look, I’m sure there’s a market for this kind of thing, and I’m certainly not one to judge it. But this is masquerading under the illusion of being a real film – it’s on sale at Walmart ‘n’ stuff – and that creates certain expectations, which the movie is woefully ill-equipped to meet. Admittedly, if you had the foresight to Google “Brookland Brothers”, the studio behind it, you would find yourself looking at a page of thoroughly NSFW links. However, the rest of us will probably be looking nervously over our shoulders for fear of a family member showing up, and wishing for an industrial-sized bottle of hand-sanitizer.

Dir: Tyler Benjamin
Star: Halsey Rae, Ashley Lane, Krisa Kouture, Christina Verdon

Heatstroke

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“Hyenas: yes. Laughing? Not so much.”

heatstrokeWildlife researcher Paul (Dorff) is looking forward to a trip to South Africa with his new girlfriend, Tally (Metkina), when he gets The Call from his ex-wife, informing them their daughter, Josie (Williams) has been arrested, and is generally hanging out with a bad crowd. Paul brings the highly-reluctant Josie on the trip, in the hopes the experience will enlighten her. Doesn’t work: she spends the time on her iPad, headphones on, sulking and being grumpy. Finally, they’ve all had enough, and Paul leaves, to take Josie back to civilization. When he doesn’t return, Tally goes to look for him, only to find the jeep crashed, Paul shot dead and Josie injured. Turns out they ran across a couple of minions belonging to Mallick (Stormare), a smuggler with a very strong interest in keeping his operation under wraps. Tally and Josie are now a pair of unacceptable loose ends that need to be tidied up – but Tally is not going to let that happen without a fight.

If some of the DVD sleeves promise rather more heroic, gun-wielding Dorff than the film delivers, I’m perfectly fine with that, as watching Tally take over things is likely more entertaining – there’s something a little Ripley-esque about the way she’s prepared to go to bat for a kid that isn’t her own. And go to bat fiercely: “Guess we’re not dealing with a f____ housewife,” says Mallick, after she has disposed of one particularly nasty henchman. The sequence leading up to that is likely the best in the film, Tally using guile to lure her target in before trying to strangle him; it’s credible in terms of strength and exudes a true sense of danger. Shame the rest doesn’t have such a well-considered approach; indeed, the ending relies on a change of heart by one character that’s a great deal more convenient than it’s convincing.

In between bursts of action, you can admire the South African scenery and some fairly impressive work with hyenas in apparent close proximity to the cast. Williams also does fairly well with a role that could have been utterly unsympathetic – we have had our share of bratty teenagers, and don’t exactly need to experience them dramatically – even if I had to keep suppressing a strange urge to yell “Stick ’em with the pointy end!” [I’d better explain: Williams has a major role in Game of Thrones, and that quote was tactical swordfighting advice given her at one point]. Stormare is his usual good value, and despite its flaws, there’s enough going on here to make for a passable slab of entertainment on a wet Saturday afternoon.

Dir: Evelyn Purcell
Star: Svetlana Metkina, Maisie Williams, Stephen Dorff, Peter Stormare

Hunterwali

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“Oh, God. Where to start….”

hunterwaliIt’s through this film that I backed into my discovery of early Bollywood star, Fearless Nadia. For doing some post-view Googling, I realized this 1988 Pakistani film is actually inspired by an Indian one of the same name, from more than 50 years earlier. That’s an entirely different rabbit-hole however: let’s consider this on its own, highly psychotronic merits.

The plot concerns two sisters, Bano and Bali (Anjuman), the latter also known as Hunterwali. Bano is demure and quiet, Bali… is not. In fact, she’s a totally wild child by local standards. Mind you, local standards apparently also involve killing girls who have the temerity to want to marry someone of their own choice. Still, there are three suitors for Bali’s hand. #1 is Umri, a warrior type, who tames her horse. However, after taking vengeance on the man who kills Umri’s entire clan, he is forced to become an outlaw. Potential husband #2 is the son of a family friend, who is her father’s choice. He is entirely useless and can be ignored, since he is present largely for comic-relief.

Finally, there’s Shahreyar, he helps rescue Hunterwali from attack by a gang. However, turns out that’s a ruse to gain her confidence. When she elopes with him, he takes her to a seedy cave – we know it’s seedy, because it has posters of Madonna and Brooke Shields on the wall! – and assaults her, along with the rest of the gang. The disgrace this brings to the family, causes Hunterwali’s dad to kill himself. In the fracas, Bano is also killed, but Bali takes the identity of her sister, who is married to the local police commander. This allows her to go out on vigilante missions, masked and with her whip, to hunt down the perps. She’s not messing around either: she shoots their eyes out and hangs them from the cave roof. While she eventually works her way up the chain to Shahreyar, he has an entire new gang. Fortunately, she has the help of Umri. And her horse. And her dog.

This has not dated well. Indeed, I suspect this wasn’t very good, even for the time – 1988 was the year Hollywood gave us Die Hard. The thing about the Fearless Nadia films is they’re not incomparable to what Hollywood was making at the time. You can’t say the same about this, which has all the technical quality of a bad 50’s B-movie. The director’s sole cinematic trick is the snap zoom, which is used so often it becomes a surreal joke, as does the single horse noise apparently available to the foley team. Yet there’s a loopy energy, and Anjuman has screen presence, which means the two and a half hours certainly do not drag. If you’re looking for a bizarre combination of Zorro with a musical version of I Spit on Your Grave,  also including a dog riding to the rescue of its owner on the back of a horse, the entire thing is on YouTube [enable closed captions for the English subs]. Just don’t say, I didn’t warn you…

Dir: Iqbal Kashmiri
Star: Anjuman, Sultan Rahi, Mustafa Qureshi, Jameel Babar

High School Hellcats

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“Pussies galore.”

hellcatsSpectacularly dated in some ways, this also possesses comforting resonances with the present day: hey, teenagers were brattily rebellious in 1958 too. New girl Joyce (Lime) is lured in by the bad-girl posings of the Hellcats, led by Connie (Lund) and her long-time second in command, Dolly (Sidney). They shoplift! They throw knives about! They smoke! This is all to the concern, not so much of her parents (who seem largely oblivious to the moral depths into which their daughter is sinking, providing her skirts aren’t too short), as her boyfriend, Mike (Halsey), who is concerned about where the Hellcats are leading Joyce.

Dolly, meanwhile, is none too happy at the increasingly cozy relationship between Connie and Joyce, that threatens to supplant her position as deputy. Matters come to a head after a party at an unoccupied house, where a game of “sardines” has a tragic conclusion. The death is hushed up, with all present vowing to keep it secret – but the cops are soon nosing around, and the pressure starts to cause cracks in the Hellcats – some members in particular…

Probably the most deliciously mad element is the first “initiation” through which Joyce has to go, involving her in the hideous crime of… wearing slacks to school. Clearly, these young women are completely irredeemable and beyond any hope of redemption. Yeah, it all seems remarkably sweet and innocent in comparison to modern life; though on the other hand, this was also while segregation was still part of American culture, and the entirely Caucasian nature of the film and its cast is also notable. But as so often, the bad girls seem an awful lot more fun than the blandly-uninteresting Joyce; give them seven more years (plus some plastic surgery), and they could end up starring in Faster, Pussycat! – there’s much the same enthusiastic spitting of over-ripe dialogue here.

It isn’t just their attitude: it’s notable that, unlike some entries in the “teenage girl gang” genre, the Hellcats are not an off-shoot of a male gang, or indeed, beholden to men in any way – the only male character of note is Mike, and he is basically as useful as a chocolate teapot. Even at the end, when Joyce is lured into a late-night meeting at the derelict cinema which is the gang’s HQ, he serves no significant purpose. That’s remarkably advanced for its time, and is the kind of forward thinking which keeps this watchable when, let’s be honest, many of the topical elements are more likely to trigger derisive snorts in the contemporary viewer. On the other hand, the amusement added certainly can’t be said to detract from the overall entertainment value.  While I’m not exactly going to claim this is some kind of hidden gem, it was certainly more watchable than I expected, given both the passage of time and its obvious throwaway nature, even in its day.

Dir: Edward Bernds
Star: Yvonne Lime, Brett Halsey, Susanne Sidney, Jana Lund

Hell Fire

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“A bastard love-child of Bitch Slap and The Evil Dead.”

hellfire2This is unashamedly and unrepentantly B-movie fodder, pitting four prostitutes against the Antichrist and each other. If you’re expecting anything else from a sleeve like that, more fool you. But for something made on a budget likely measured in thousands rather than millions, it punches way above its financial weight, and barely pauses in its savagery and energetically bad taste.

The four hookers decide to rob their pimp, hearing whispers that he’s plotting a big deal. Finding no money present, they kidnap the man he’s meeting and take him to a remote cabin to extract whatever value they can. Unfortunately, they’ve bitten off more than expected, as they are now holding the literal son of Satan hostage. He (Green) isn’t quite up on his powers yet, but can move objects, read minds and also turn the women’s darkest secrets into physical, demonic form. Though he can’t read the mind of Rosetta (Beretta), it turns out she’s enthusiastically on his side, in exchange for the usual, “selling your soul” type stuff. Turns out Mr A.C. was negotiating with their pimp to go kill the currently unborn son of God, which would give Lucifer a huge leg-up in the imminent war between heaven and hell. Only Justine (Marshall) stands between the Antichrist, his new ally, and… Well, it’s unlikely to be good for mankind.

Green seems to be aiming for a Charles Manson vibe, and does a good job there, even as he spends much of the film tied to a chair. This leaves the floor literally open for the women, and it’s them – particularly Marshall and Beretta – who deliver carnage that’s brutal, heads right for the jugular and doesn’t stop chewing until it reaches bone. Beretta, in particular, exudes “Zero fucks given” and, with her Antipodean twang, has something of a younger, pissed-off Zoe Bell about her [though Beretta is Australian, rather than a Kiwi]. Although credit to everyone involved here, as they go full-throttle into their roles, and their enthusiasm helps paper over occasional moments of weakness, probably most notably in its audio work, often low-fi at best.

Additionally, there is some cheating here: the “rules” by which the Antichrist has to operate, e.g. he can’t kill the son of God directly, exist purely for the film’s purpose, not out of any theological basis. However, I can only admire the way Fratto and his cast have taken a concept, twisted it into an appropriate form for their tastes, and then run with it, far beyond what I expected going in. Sure, you undeniably need a fondness for low-budget horror, in order to appreciate this in the slightest. I do, and having sat through my share of tedious offerings in that genre, have to say this is one of the best such efforts I’ve seen in a long while. Rarely have the words “bloody good time” been more appropriate.

Dir: Marc Fratto
Star: Katelyn Marie Marshall, J. Scott Green, Selene Beretta, Jennice Carter

Hush

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“What’s ASL for yippee ki-yay?”

hushThere’s one moment here, where the heroine leaves a final message, certain she’s going to die, that’s poignant to a surprising degree, not often seen in the genre. It’s the moment I really bought into this, which was made for a mere $70,000, and is a very nicely assembled machine for creating tension. Deaf author Maddie Young (Siegel) has moved to a house in the middle of nowhere to try and finish her second novel. But one night, the peace and quiet is interrupted the arrival of a masked man (Gallagher), whose intent is clear, even if his reasons remain obscure: the terrorising, and eventual murder, of Maddie. Cut off from all outside assistance, and after all efforts to escape have proved futile, she eventually realizes there is only one way to survive.

Equal parts Stephen King and Wait Until Dark, the Audrey Hepburn film in which a blind woman is similarly the target, this is an object lesson in doing the most with what you have. A cast numbering only a handful and a single location, are not necessarily a barrier to entertaining and effective cinema. The first section is very much a careful build-up: set the central character in her location, establish her strengths (imagination, self-reliance) and vulnerabilities (obvious). Then, unleash the threat, triggering an escalating series of cat-and-mouse incidents, bringing your heroine to the point of desperation mentioned above. Finally? It’s likely no spoiler to say, the tables get turned – but the less detail I provide there, the more you’ll be able to appreciate it.

If you’re wondering why this stalk ‘n’ slasher is here, consider this quote from Siegel: “We do credit Wait Until Dark for being the driving force, but we always thought this movie is more like Die Hard; we wanted to beat Maddie up, we wanted her to use the whole space. We just think Die Hard is a perfect movie, and I’ve always wanted to be that kind of action hero. One of my all-time career goals is to be Ripley in the next remake of Aliens!” Having watched the film, much of the above makes sense. It’s certainly a punishingly physical role, though since she also co-wrote the script with the director, she has no-one but herself to blame [they’re now married, so it clearly wasn’t too distressing…]

While obviously operating on a much smaller scale, much of it works almost as well, though the absence of any motive for the attacker is a little bit of a cop-out. Even something simple, as in The Strangers (“Because you were home”), might have been better. There’s also one moment where it felt like our deaf heroine reacted when her phone rang, which seemed odd. But the positives here easily outweigh any complaints, with Maddie a great heroine, who refuses to be defined by her disability – even if it puts her at a significant disadvantage in this situation. It’s also an experience thoroughly grounded in reality, where things might play out like this, given the scenario. And if you were considering moving to the country, Hush will probably make you think again.

Dir: Mike Flanagan
Star: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr.