This stand-alone episode looks at Mike Flanagan’s 2016 film Hush. Hush is a horror film about Maddie, a young writer who is deaf and mute and who has recently moved to a secluded cabin in the woods. The film details one harrowing night when a serial killer arrives at her home.

Content Notice: This podcast contains discussions of rape, gendered violence, graphic depictions of injury and physical/mental harm, ableism, and imprisonment, as well as audio clips from the film that some listeners may find disturbing.

This podcast was originally published on The Coachella Review’s blog which can be found here: http://thecoachellareview.com/wordpress/2017/03/24/sonic-horror-geographies-hush-gender-and-disability/

Notes and references

Hush Podcast Image[1] For more information on critical film studies, start with: Slavoj Žižek, D. N. Rodowick, Noël Carroll, Béla Balázs, André Bazin, Christian Metz, Gilles Deleuze, Anne Friedberg, Susan Sontag, and Sergei Eisenstein.

[2] For more information on race and gender theory, start with: Judith Butler, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Sarah Ahmed, Kate Bornstein, Jack Halberstam, Donna Haraway, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Kaja Silverman, Jasbir Puar, Stuart Hall, Edward Said, and Avery Gordon.

[3] For more information on queer theory, start with: Lee Edelman, David Halperin,José Esteban Muñoz, Hiram Perez, Dean Spade, Georges Bataille, B. Ruby Rich, Kathy Cohen, and Shiri Eisner.

[4] For more information on metaphysical, epistemological, and ontological philosophy (the foundations for my analyses), start with: Jacques Lacan, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Julia Kristeva, Karen Barad, and Ian Bogost.

[5] The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Directed by Tobe Hooper. 1974. Austin, TX: Bryanston Distributing Company.

[6] Ms. 45. Directed by Abel Ferrara. 1981. Chatsworth, CA: Image Entertainment, 2000.

[7] On deaf gain vs. hearing loss: Bauman, H-Dirksen L., and Joseph M. Murray. “Reframing: From Hearing Loss to Deaf Gain.” Translated by Fallon Brizendine and Emily Schenker. Deaf Studies Digital Journal 1 (2009): 1-10. Web. Accessed March 17, 2017. http://dsdj.gallaudet.edu/assets/section/section2/entry19/DSDJ_entry19.pdf.

[8] For more on windows, mirrors, and liminal spaces in film and TV, see my first podcast series, “Everything is Liminal” here: https://openivorytower.org/open-ivory-tower-podcast/everything-is-liminal-series/

[9] For more on phallic symbols in horror see “Weapons” subheading in: Clover, Carol. “Her Body, Him Self.” Men, Women, and Chain Saws. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993. (Pages 31-32).

[10] “All phallic symbols are not equal, and a hands-on knifing answers a hands-on rape in a way that a shooting, even a shooting preceded by humiliation, does not.”: Clover, Carol. “Her Body, Him Self.” Men, Women, and Chain Saws. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993. 32.

[11] For more on sexual symbolism and space in horror see “The Terrible Place” subheading in: Clover, Carol. “Her Body, Him Self.” Men, Women, and Chain Saws. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993. (Pages 30-31).

[12] Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” In The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments, edited by Marc Furstenau, 200-8. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

[13] For more on nonbinary gender and gender as a spectrum, see: Walsh, R. and G. Einstein. “(Trans)Feminism, Bodily Autonomy, and Situated Neuroscience: Separating Gender from Genitalia in Medicine and Feminism to Move Beyond the Binary.” Presented at Trans*Formations: Lives and Politics beyond the Gender Binary, Lisbon, Portugal, June 14-15, 2016. (Transcript here: http://bit.ly/2kFB83b)

[14] hooks, bell. “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators” In The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments, edited by Marc Furstenau, 229-41. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

[15] Kaplan, E. Anne. “Is the Gaze Male?” In The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments, edited by Marc Furstenau, 209-21. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010.

[16] “the one who encounters the mutilated bodies of her friends and perceives the full extent of the preceding horror and of her own peril; who is chased, cornered, wounded; whom we see scream, stagger, fall, rise, and scream again.”: Clover, 35.

[17] For more on the relationship between sex and violence in horror see: Clover, Carol. “Getting Even.” Men, Women, and Chain Saws. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993. (Pages 114-65).

[18] “whom we see scream, stagger, fall, rise, and scream again,”: Clover, 35.

[19] Find “Silver Screen Final Girls to TV Screen Queens” podcast series here: https://openivorytower.org/open-ivory-tower-podcast/silver-screen-final-girls-to-tv-scream-queens-series/

[20] For more on feminist theory see Luce Irigaray, Jessica Benjamin, and Julia Kristeva.

[21] For more on psychoanalytic theory (in the feminist/horror/film context) see Barbara Creed, Malcolm Turvey, Noël Carroll, and Linda Williams.

[22] For discussions of screaming in Men, Women, and Chainsaws, see the following pages: 3, 35-36, 41, 58-59, 132, 151, 167, 178 (n. 29).

[23] For more on the nuanced relationship between violence, death, romance, and sexual abuse, see “Part 2: Broken Dolls” (19-36) and “Part 7: You’ve Always Loved Violence” (109-132) in: Janisse, Kier-La. House of  Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films. London, UK: FAB Press, 2012.

[24] Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. London, UK: Arcturus, 2014. 277.

[25] The analysis of the killer’s space in the woods could be expanded to incorporate an extensive discussion of parallels between Hush, “Little Red Riding Hood,” and related fairytales/myths. If you’re interested in this topic and are looking for fiction that addresses it, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl is a fantastic novel and does some really interesting things with Red Riding Hood. Fair warning, it is graphic.

[26] Bentham, Jeremy, and John Bowring. The Works of Jeremy Bentham. Vol. 4. Edinburgh: W. Tait, 1843.

[27] For more on the surveillance state see: Darda, Joseph. “When Is Postwar?” American Quarterly 65.4 (2013): 949-58. Web.

[28] For more on slasher films: https://openivorytower.org/2016/10/23/killers/

[29] For more on paranormal horror: https://openivorytower.org/2017/02/24/paranormal-horror/

Audio Clips

Audio clips in this podcast (including transitions) are from Hush, written and directed by Mike Flanagan, produced by Blumhouse Productions 2016.

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By Geneveive Newman

Image  Credit: Blumhouse Productions © 2016