‘Hush’: Does the Killer In Mike Flanagan’s Horror Movie Have a Motive?

Director Mike Flanagan left an integral part out of his 2016 movie Hush. He didn’t give his murderer a motive. Fans of Hush, starring Kate Siegel, often wonder why the movie‘s assailant preys on the main character. If he didn’t have a motive, why did the killer in Hush do what he did to Maddie (Siegel)?

John Gallagher Jr. as the killer in 'Hush'
‘Hush’ | Mike Flanagan/Netflix

‘Hush’ is a 2016 horror film by Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel 

Today, Flanagan is best known for creating the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. But Flanagan has also brought Stephen King stories like Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep to life. In 2016, Flanagan and his wife Siegel co-wrote the horror flick Hush. Flanagan directed and edited the film and Siegel played the starring role. 

In the movie Hush, Maddie is a deaf and mute author living a life of solitude in the woods. Very little detail is given about Maddie’s background, aside from the fact she has an ex-boyfriend who wronged her in the past. Feeling very much isolated from the world because of her handicaps, Maddie moves to the middle of the woods to live peacefully alone — until a masked killer shows up at her door. 

Mike Flanagan’s movie ‘Hush’ intentionally leaves out dialogue 

To add to the storytelling, Flanagan used very little dialogue in Hush. During an interview with Bloody Disgusting, Flanagan said he wanted to challenge himself as a director, and using minimal dialogue helped him do that. “I coupled that with this idea that Kate was talking about a lot, which was the anxiety of seeing somebody try to get into your house,” Flanagan added. “We thought that if we made the lead character deaf-mute then we would create the potential for a really fascinating version of [horror] movies.” Initially, Flanagan wanted to do the entire movie without sound. But when he realized he couldn’t build tension without noise, Flanagan tried a different approach. 

The villain in ‘Hush’ seemingly kills without motive  

Hush doesn’t take long to dive into its stress-inducing narrative. Within 15 minutes of the film, a masked killer, credited as “Man” and played by John Gallagher Jr., shows up at Maddie’s door. Realizing he has stumbled across his next victim, the killer takes his time making himself known to Maddie. Without giving too much away, the film unfolds like a game of cat-and-mouse. Ultimately, Maddie must fight for her life in silence.

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Typically in horror movies, the villain has a motivation for killing. But with Hush, that wasn’t the case. Instead, Flanagan leaned into the situation at hand rather than giving the killer too much of a backstory. In this way, Flanagan forces his audience to focus on the action instead of the details.

Does the murderer in ‘Hush’ know Kate Siegel’s character Maddie? 

The killer in Hush doesn’t appear to know Maddie before arriving on her front porch. Again, to not have the audience’s attention focused on the details, Flanagan gave Maddie very little back story and even less detail regarding her assailant. The man simply enjoys killing, but not before physically and mentally torturing his victims. There’s never a clear explanation for why he kills or why he uses the methods he does, or even why he goes after Maddie and her neighbor. But what is clear is the deeply unsettling feeling viewers get when they watch this maniac work.