Written and directed by Joss Whedon himself, the episode "Hush" appeared in the fourth season of Buffy, when our blonde slayer was struggling with the horror that is one’s freshman year at college. The episode features the appearance of “fairy tale” demons who throw the town of Sunnydale, CA, into chaos when they steal the citizen’s voices, rendering the entire population mute. Alien may have taught us how terrifying it can be when no one can hear you scream, but how many times does that terror multiply when even YOU can’t hear yourself scream?
The Gentlemen - Scary as @#$%.
Known as The Gentlemen, the voice-stealing demons featured in "Hush" are visually fear-inducing. Playing on several horror-archetypes and, supposedly, Whedon’s own childhood nightmare about a floating monster, The Gentlemen visually recall horror icons like Nosferatu, Hellraiser’s Cenobites, and even (according to Whedon) Mr. Burns of The Simpsons. (Note: Creepy, old people will always be super creepy) The image of one of these blood-chilling monsters hovering towards you in the darkness is something any hardcore horror fan can respect as an addition to the genre, especially when accompanied by their also silent, flailing, straight-jacket bound side-kicks who are usually seen “dancing” around their suspended masters.
“They need to take seven, and they might take yours.” It gets worse . . .
Early on in the episode, Buffy receives one of her trademark prophetic dreams warning her of The Gentleman’s approach. It seems that the demons travel from town to town, stealing voices temporarily, so that they can collect seven human hearts (fresh ones, of course) before they depart. In Buffy’s dream, a young girl sings the lyrics below, spelling out the horrors to come (Note: Cryptic and unnaturally serious children will always be super creepy.):
Can't even shout
Can't even cry
The Gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows
Knocking on doors
They need to take seven
And they might take yours
Can't call to mum
Can't say a word
You're gonna die screaming
But you won't be heard
The men behind the monsters.
The physicality of the actors behind The Gentlemen obviously contributed hugely to the success of "Hush" and are responsible for the graceful horror the creatures emanate. Doug Jones, Camden Toy, Don W. Lewis, and Charlie Brumbly were the performers behind these silent horrors, and the influence of mime training and their other experiences with physical acting made The Gentlemen unforgettable.
FBC has had the honor to interview both Doug Jones (whom you would also know from his appearances in Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Falling Skies, and much more) and Camden Toy (who also portrayed the Turok-Han and Gnarl in Buffy: Season 7) in the past, and we’d definitely recommend that you check out the fascinating videos at the links below:
Saturn Awards 2013: Fanboy Comics Interviews Doug Jones ('Falling Skies,' 'Hellboy')
Saturn Awards 2013: Fanboy Comics Interviews Camden Toy ('Monster School,' 'Buffy,' 'Angel')
Whedon casts off his “crutch” and nabs an Emmy nod.
Whedon has stated that the original inspiration behind "Hush" was the claim by some in the industry that Buffy’s previous three years of success was nothing but a response to Whedon’s witty and pop-culture reference-filled dialogue. Worried that he was becoming creatively stagnant and determined to challenge himself and the show’s detractors, Whedon whipped up an episode that features roughly 27 minutes of “dialogue silence” in the 44-minute episode! The show received acclaim from fans and critics and also garnered the only Emmy nomination for Writing in a Drama Series category that any Buffy episode every received.
In the end, if you’ve enjoyed any of Whedon’s work, like The Cabin in the Woods for instance, you don’t want to miss "Hush." It’s to die for . . . (I couldn’t resist.)
Happy Halloween, comic book sniffers!