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HUSH ($30) is a guilty pleasure for those individuals who want to switch their brains off and just be entertained. The plot has holes in it big enough to drive a bus through, yet Jessica Lange and Nina Foch deliver performances that are so much fun to watch that they make one forget the film's other weaknesses. The plot of this thriller provides fewer thrills than implied by its trailer, yet it is a serviceable framework to hang Jessica Lange's wonderfully wicked portrayal of the mother-in-law from hell. The plot of HUSH centers on Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her new husband Jackson (Johnathon Schaech). After pregnancy and New York City life proves too much for Helen, the young couple relocates to his family’s estate in Virginia to help his mother Martha (Jessica Lange) renovate the house and horse ranch. Martha dotes on her son and seems to take an almost unnatural interest in her pregnant daughter-in-law.

When her husband becomes somewhat distant, Helen suspects that Martha may be driving a wedge between her and Jackson. Helen seeks advice from Jackson’s elderly grandmother Alice (Nina Foch) who confirms some of her suspicions. Alice also informs Helen that Martha is dangerous and is not to be trusted. HUSH is a slowly simmering potboiler that draws to a somewhat predictable conclusion. However, the last act seems to be lacking some of the expected pyrotechnics. As I stated above, it is the performances over plot that make HUSH an enjoyable diversion. The cast also includes Debi Mazar, Kaiulani Lee and Hal Holbrook.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made HUSH available in both wide screen and full screen presentations. While the full screen presentation looks better than a typical cable broadcast, it lacks the beauty of the anamorphic enhanced wide screen version. HUSH has a well-balanced appearance with its 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio restored. The transfer itself is very appealing with a lush, detailed image that recreates Andrew Dunn’s cinematography quite nicely. There aren’t any traces of chroma noise anywhere in warm, saturated hues that predominate the look of this film. Digital compression artifacts were virtually absent from this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a reserved mix that uses directional effects for emphasis, instead of being showy. Since this is a thriller, this track favors atmosphere, which it delivers it in abundance. Dialogue reproduction is natural sounding and Christopher Young’s music is effectively mixed into the track. The DVD also includes a matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack, plus a French language track. Subtitles are available in English and French.

The straightforward interactive menus allow access to theatrical trailers, in addition to the standard scene and language selection features.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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