Hush (1998)

It is a trope that mothers and daughters-in-law do not often see eye-to-eye, generational attitudes clash, and doting affection for the husband/son clashes even more. Whether this is true depends on dynamic, yet that does not stop stories from being told about this frosty relationship. In 1998, this tense relationship was extrapolated into an insidious outcome in the tale of Hush. 

But there is also a lot of horses… so that’s good!

We meet Helen, who is travelling up to Kentucky with her boyfriend, Jackson, to meet Jackson’s mother. Martha, she runs a horse stable that has seen better days. When Helen gets pregnant and a terrifying home break-in leaves her no choice but to lodge with her new mother-in-law. As she attempts to settle down into her new home, she discovers her host and homestead might not be what they appear to be, as Helen’s new abode is home to more than its fair share of dark secrets from the past and present.

I’ve had warmer family dinners, and I’m not talking about the food.

Hush is the kind of film that needs no extra effects or elaborate set-pieces to tell the story, relying heavily on the cast to carry the story. Jessica Lange is masterful as the matriarch of the falling horse farm and in this role, she is wonderfully counterbalanced by the talents if Gwyneth Paltrow who stardom is continually on the rise that started around the time of this film. They complement and spar each other well and help accentuate the abundance of drama that this relationship has. Though it seems that animosity runs in the family as the relationship with Jackson’s Grandmother Alice, and Martha is just as contentious, despite appearing the opposite on the surface.

The estate is marvellous in all seasons! …even with its history.

The close-knit town of Kilronan is the perfect backdrop for this tale. Looking picturesque in the snow, and abundant with friendly locals, the kind of place where everybody knows each other (and their secrets), the perfect recipe for uncertainty and unease beneath the surface. As any good thriller should know, the film certainly knows how to orchestrate tension. With an abundance of scenes showcasing the highs and lows of Helen’s experience, With one example manages to get her to leave her job, find out she is pregnant and deliver some anxiety-cutting comedy, sending the viewer on a roller-coaster of emotions throughout.

It feels redundant to say how effective Lange is… especially in the presence of stars like Foch.

Hush draws on the natural apprehensions of the family you are marrying into, and the history-laden location of farming communities to create an enjoyable thriller. Comfortably communicating the culture clash between the generations. Hush parades the talents of its cast to make fresh work of a familiar yet extraordinary premise and therefore is not a film that should be shrouded in silence.

Helen will find out that she’ll need more than her skills as an architect to make a home on this range!

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