‘Soft & Quiet’ Movie Review [SXSW 2022]: Blumhouse Thriller Film Is a Terrifying Punch to the Gut
Soft & Quiet is a highly-divisive thriller that will surely generate conversation. Writer/director Beth de Araújo brings America‘s most dangerous silent threat into the forefront – white supremacy. However, she approaches the subject with a very straightforward, yet brazenly brutal execution that is truly unshakable.
‘Soft & Quiet’ brings real-life horror to the screen
Soft & Quiet takes place in real-time over the course of a single afternoon. Emily (Stefanie Estes) is an elementary school teacher with plans to host a club mixer with like-minded women in the community. However, it turns out that they’re part of The Daughters for Aryan Unity. They share racist stories and come up with plans to begin recruiting others into their club.
Fellow members Leslie (Olivia Luccardi), Kim (Dana Millican), and Marjorie (Eleanore Pienta) agree to move the meeting to Emily’s house. They decide to make a stop at the local store for some wine along the way. However, they begin a confrontation with two mixed-raced Asian women in the store and decide that they must have the final laugh.
Writer/director Beth de Araújo weaves real-life racist horrors with the terror of home invasion
De Araújo immediately seeks to put the audience in an uncomfortable spot starting at the very beginning. Emily goes out of her way to weaponize one of her young students against the janitor because of the color of her skin. However, it grows painfully apparent that she blames all of her life regrets and hurdles on minorities. These racist feelings only escalate when the “support group” nurtures each other’s hatred.
Soft & Quiet emphasizes that white supremacists get their power from remaining under the radar. The women take their time in the meeting to discuss how they plan to spread their harmful ideologies around the community in a gentle fashion. Emily wants to open an elementary school of her own to teach children the lessons that she deems important against diversity and inclusion. Their ideas only get more chilling and disgusting the longer that they brainstorm.
The group of women seeks out trouble when two mixed-raced Asian women walk into the same store. This is when their hate turns into action, as Soft & Quiet transforms into a home invasion flick. De Araújo also examines how gender plays into the situation, with Emily’s husband, Craig (Jon Beavers), getting pulled into the situation.
‘Soft & Quiet’ is stress-inducing and immensely disturbing
Soft & Quiet is deeply disturbing and uncomfortable from the start. There isn’t a single moment that isn’t bone-chilling or stomach-churning. De Araújo decides to use the gimmick that makes the film look like it’s filmed in a single take. It creates a greater sense of urgency, although the story and the characterizations are victims of having to make sense within a continuous shot.
The film borders on torture porn, but not in the way of Saw or Hostel. It isn’t gory, as it focuses on the psychological component. However, many communities around the world are fighting anti-Asian racism, so making a film that relentlessly tortures its Asian characters could be particularly harmful. Is de Araújo hard enough on white supremacists in her depiction? Not quite.
Soft & Quiet is utterly disturbing and is certain to make you feel dirty just for watching it. However, it’s certainly a conversation starter with the goal of bringing racism, specifically anti-Asian racism, into the open. These horrible ideologies are at their most dangerous when they’re allowed to exist in the shadows of society.
De Araújo turns in an impressive feature debut that isn’t afraid to go to some very dark places. It’s a straightforward premise that is rather surface-level, but it’s certainly an experience. Some audiences won’t be sure whether to praise it or slam it. Soft & Quiet is gut-wrenching and stress-inducing.