Written and Directed by Elizabeth Beckett
Starring Courtney King, Tina Jones, Andrew Botsford
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Told with a raw energy, debut short film Hush from writer and director Elizabeth Beckett is a tenacious exploration of familial abuse, utilising stark and brutal visuals with a dark thematic depth that is compelling if a bit rough around the edges.
The story follows a young girl who appears to be stuck between this world and the next. Numerous signifiers show themselves with horrific connotations, as we see her in various locations and around her house, sometimes involved in the action and sometimes not, such as when the man of the house is abusing the girl's mother. We also see her in the throes of attempting suicide, offering a disturbing sense of life, death and the in between, coupled with the haunting voice of a younger female voice that seems to be an integral piece of this traumatic puzzle.
As a psychological thriller, Hush is a short film that brings a certain imbalance for the audience that is unsettling throughout. First of all, the timeline is used to baffle, and the interaction between the characters seems impossible to dissect. All this creates a fantastically troubling atmosphere that highlights the nature of the plot perfectly. Sequences involving the violent dad are the most affecting, something which Beckett executes with boldness and respect.
Where the film suffers slightly is the audio. Such is the way with many indie short films and Hush was made with barely any budget or resources, but it would be remiss of me not to mention it as an area that can definitely be improved. Another aspect is the storytelling. Whilst the atmosphere is impressive and the themes are really strong, the plot structure is too nonsensical. The viewer will struggle to pick up on the details therefore limiting the emotional connection to the characters, which is a shame because it definitely feels like there is an immensely intelligent story there. It just seems shrouded in too much ambiguity.
From a filmmaking stance, in particular the visuals and sound, there is a lot to celebrate here. The contrast of engrossing exterior locations against the uncomfortable, claustrophobic interiors of the house is delightful, whilst the original soundtrack from Sydney Adams provides a striking accompaniment to Hush's visual storytelling.
Overall, an impressive and compelling debut short film from filmmaker Elizabeth Beckett, showing a huge amount of promise, in particular in the aesthetics of thriller filmmaking.