Color, 2010, 85m.
Directed by David Lee Madison
Starring Brad Loree, Edward X. Young, Stephen Geoffreys, Steve Dash, Jessica Cameron, Connie Giordano
Horizon / Kino Lorber (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US R1 HD/NTSC) / WS (2.00:1) (16:9) / DTS-HD 5.1

Mr. HushWhile preparing for Halloween festivities with his happy wife and their happy kid, happy guy Holland Price (Loree) answers a knock at the door to find an Irish Catholic priest (Young) seeking help after a car breakdown involving a nun and a bunch of schoolchildren. Too happy to think for a moment about another plan of action, HollanMr. Hushd welcomes the stranger into his home, which is promptly rewarded by having his wife's throat slit, his daughter stolen, and his head whacked into unconsciousness. Apparently this evil assailant, Mr. Hush, has some kind of deep grudge against Holland and wants to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible, even returning later to torment him in a dentist's office. Flash forward a decade, and Holland has a new life set up including a girlfriend with a kid, who of course open the door late at night when they hear someone knocking. The whole scenario starts over again, but this time Holland winds up chained in a basement with Mr. Hush and his gleeful, sadistic sidekick, Stark (Fright Night's Geoffreys), pulling a few more nasty surprises out of their bag of tricks.

A film with its heart in the right place, Mr. Hush has a potentially crackerjack premise with a clueless man tormenting over a period of years by an evil force whose motives only become clear in gradual stages. It also wisely doesn't try to avoid any hamminess inherent in the story, with Young (a low-budget horror vet familiar from fare like Sea of Dust and Green Monster) and especially the always entertaining Geoffreys (in full Evil Ed mode here and wearing a red bandana for some reason) chomping, gnashing, and swallowing every shred of scenery around them. Unfortunately the part of Holland requires Loree (an actor and stunt man who played Michael Myers in Halloween: Resurrection) to emote wildly at regular intervals, which results in plenty of unintentional comedy. While a normal man would probably go into catatonic shock or a violent rage after each of Hush's antics, Loree instMr. Hushead caterwauls like his genitals are in the jaws of a pit bull.

The pacing and tone changes are bizarre as well, with the first ten minutes fully devoted to showing the aforementioned happy family being very, very happy and expressing their happiness to each other in the happiest way possible. It's not the most gripping way to start a horror film, unfortunately. First-time director David Lee Madison pulls off some of the disorienting story shifts well enough and even gets an irrational nightmare vibe going at times, but the decision to shoot some scenes with a jerky handheld camera tends to creMr. Hushate irritation more than tension. If Matt Damon isn't running across the screen with a gun, that trick's almost impossible to pull off. Then there's the ultimate identity of Mr. Hush, something most monster devotees will probably guess by his fourth line of dialogue; however, it's unveiled during the climax in a way that's... well, certainly unlike anything else you've ever seen. Perhaps most surprising here is the fact that the music score is provided by Marco Werba, an Italian music disciple and horror buff who got stuck with the unenviable chore of scoring Dario Argento's Giallo. His work here is fine and in a fairly similar vein, though there isn't a huge amount of it. If you keep your expectations modest and just want some hammy horror with a couple of minor splashes of blood, this might fit the bill on a slow evening.

Released on both Blu-Ray and DVD by Horizon Films with distribution by Kino Lorber, Mr. Hush comes stacked with extras (not to mention cover art very, very similar to a certain Halloween cult favorite) along with an HD transfer in the first option that's about as good as possible given the modest budget and technical limitations. The decision to shoot it mostly in Pennsylvania actually pays off with some atmospheric exterior shots at times, something the film could have emphasized even more. The audio is presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 and a 2.0 mix, both of which are again limited by the source. Werba's score gets most of the surround action, while the dialogue ranges from okay to sometimes distorted whenever someone's screaming and yelling (which happens fairly frequently). Both Madison and Young team up for a commentary that covers the usual ground, ranging from shooting locations to how much they loved the rest of the cast to the unusual emotional grace notes they were trying to hit in some of the quieter scenes. However, the funniest extra by far is the "Special Introduction," a video piece in a kitchen with Madison and Clerks' Brian O'Halloran (whose presence only makes sense if you watch all the way through the end credits of the film itself) bantering as they ostensibly welcome viewers to the film. A blooper reel is also included along with a Visitor music video for the end credits theme song (really!), plus the original promotional trailer and subsequent ones created for theatrical and DVD use.

Reviewed on August 15, 2012.