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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover



Starring: William Ash, Christine Bottomley, Claire Keelan, Stuart McQuarrie and Robbie Gee
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 20 July 2009

Zakes is a frustrated writer who spends his nights putting up posters in motorway services stations. Sometimes his girlfriend Beth accompanies him, but things are not well with their relationship at present. Zakes’s frustration is getting the better of him and Beth is wearying of his lack of drive. On one rainy, fateful, night the couple bicker and prowl the dark corridor of the M1 when the cover of the truck, which they are following, unexpectedly opens for a moment, displaying a naked woman in a cage. Although Zakes calls the police he is undecided about what to do next, until Beth disappears...

Hush (2008 - 1 hr, 27 min, 31 sec) is an independently made horror/thriller, written and directed by Mark Tonderai. It was shot, at night, in the wet over a five week period.

Tonderai is obviously steeped in film as he has borrowed heavily from a number of well known films like Duel (1971) and The Vanishing (1993), but then film plots are like jokes - there are only a handful of originals, the rest being iterations and combinations of the basic plot. So we won’t hold that against the film, if he’s going to borrow at least he’s borrowed from some of the best.

What we have here is an independent film which has pared down the psychological thriller to its visceral core. Tonerai directs with a good feel for pace and a good idea what will make his audience jump. I won’t spoil it for you but I particularly liked the ending which had me punching the air, it confirms the audiences belief that evil isn’t some spooky phantom but it lurks in other people.

The story follows Zakes (Will Ash) as he seeks to rescue Beth (Christine Bottomley, currently starring in Hope Springs), his every attempt to call for help or explain what he is trying to do only makes his plight a little bit worse. He goes from a bit of a loser to a man who is being hunted by the police for murder. In his journey to redemption, he’s whacked in the head and even crucified, nailed to the floor by his adversaries minions. The man he is chasing (Andreas Wisniewski) is, in true horror film style, never properly seen, which makes his threat all the greater.

Christine Bottomley is good, but she is only in the beginning and end of the film, the film's whole success depends on Will Ash who turns in a powerful, honest and believable performance. Between the steady hand of the director and the skill of Ash, Tonderai has turned in an impressive film, given the restrictions under which it was made.

Along with its other audio options, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Stereo 2.0 (PCM), audio description all with English subtitles, the disc boasts a full length audio commentary from Mark Tonderai (director), Philipp Blaubach (cinematographer), Zoe Stewart (producer) and Theo Green (composer) which pretty much tells you everything you could wish to know about the making of the film.

There are some decent extras on this well presented disc including the theatrical trailer (2 min, 02 sec) and an Interview with Director Mark Tonderai (9 min, 12 sec) where he admits that the worse two things he ever wrote was “night, in the rain” as it made the shoot a nightmare. There is a relatively short Interview with Will Ash (9 min, 56 sec), talking about how he got the role and his experiences making the film. Orange Artist on artist: Noel Clarke Interviews Mark Tonderai (9 min 58 sec) presumably started as an internet piece as the quality of the film is fairly poor. We don’t learn much that isn’t in the director's own interview. The larger pieces finish off with the Deleted Scenes, which are provided with or without commentary (8 min, 40 sec). There’s some interesting stuff here, not least of which is an alternative ending.

The extras are brought to a close with seven very short pieces. Making the Motorway (1 min, 23 sec) has some shots of the outdoor vehicle shoot, showing how they did it, as is Directing Traffic (37 sec). Peeping Tom (2 min, 18 sec) shows the crew filming the toilet scene and Back Projection (1 min, 56 sec) shows them filming the car interiors. Beth (1 min 42 sec) is a little piece to camera with Christine Bottomley and Water Inconvenience (1 min, 56 sec) highlights the problems and tribulations of filming whilst constantly wet. The last piece is Chris Rusby - Key Grip (1 min 27 sec), who demonstrates some of his craft. Now all these are interesting in their own way but what I didn’t understand is why they felt the need to put a vague and annoying overlay on all these pieces. It adds nothing and distracts from what is being shown.

The film is presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (1080p). One of the things about using DV rather than film is that you sometimes loose quality. For most films this would be a problem, oddly enough it’s a bonus on Hush as bright lights have a slight flare and the dark shot have a suitably rough and grainy feel, all of which adds a feeling of unreality, which is in step with the film's subject matter. The film demonstrates that you don’t always have to throw a stack of cash at a project to get a quality result.


Charles Packer

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