Sonic Horror Geographies: Hush (2016), Gender, and Disability
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.

Notes and References

[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, Lison, 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