Soft & Quiet (2022) IMDB Description: “Playing out in real time, an elementary school teacher organizes a mixer of like-minded women, when she encounters a woman from her past, leading to a volatile chain of events.”
Why I took it off my List: I hadn’t had this low-budget thriller on my radar at all, until IMDB recently helpfully recommended it to me. And I’m really glad I found it this way, as it’s one of those films that is definitely more effective the less you know going in.
The IMDB page didn’t give much away, only the vague description above and a piece of trivia that horror uber-producer Jason Blum was impressed enough to snap it up for distribution after a single screening. Intrigued, I decided to give it a go without watching the trailer or reading more about it, which in hindsight I think was the best course of action!
Spoilers? No, I’ve tried to vaguely describe what to expect without giving away a major twist that happens early on, and highlight the strengths of the film without going into detail.
Still, if you want to go in cold (which I highly recommend), this is one of the few times I’d advise checking out the film first and then coming back to my review to see if you agree!
Review of Soft & Quiet (2022)
An ironic film title if ever there was one, Soft & Quiet may start with a rather unassuming setting, but soon devolves into a tense and uncomfortable scenario.
It begins with the prim and cheerful teacher Emily, freshly baked cherry pie in hand, leaving her kindergarten to walk to a nearby community center for an unspecified meeting that she has organized.
On her way out, she stops to keep a little boy company while he waits for his mother to pick him up. So far, so wholesome. But some hints of unease begin to emerge when Emily instructs the boy to reprimand a cleaning lady for mopping the floor while there are still students around. Even though he’s sitting outside and not really in danger of slipping, as she suggests.
This is odd and starts to mark Emily as a little bit off, even though she seems perfectly sweet and kind otherwise. Another slight red flag is raised by the fact we don’t actually see the top of the pie, which she casually shows to the little boy off-screen. Even though it is prominently placed during the opening credits sequence.
Both of these mysteries are resolved early on, pretty much as soon as Emily arrives at the meeting of ‘like-minded’ women and removes the foil from her desert. Things almost immediately click into place, and the horrifying nature of this get-together becomes immediately clear.
Gimmicky Execution but Gripping Story
What follows is a slow descent into an increasingly alarming situation that feels both inevitable and gripping. It’s made all the more surprising by the fact that the women involved in eventually perpetuating some horrifying acts are, on the surface, rational and upstanding citizens.
However, as things progress, you realize that these women are holding some terrifying convictions, and are willing to do whatever it takes to defend their cause. The actresses all do a good job at showing the conflicting sides of these people and presenting them as believable characters even as things begin to spiral wildly out of control and there is no possible way to condone their actions.
The one criticism I have is that, although it mostly adds to the sense of immersion, the fact that the film is (seemingly) shot in one continuous unbroken take is not entirely successful. There are parts where not much of particular note is happening (such as when the women are walking or driving between locations), and my attention started to wander a bit.
The ending also gets a bit shaky-cam chaotic for its own good, and you are left wondering if whether a more conventional approach to this story would have worked just as well or even better. The material is certainly strong enough to have carried it.
Final Score: 8/10
Soft & Quiet (2022): Worth Watching?
Yes, though not if you’re looking for a good time. Soft & Quiet is far from a comfortable watch, but it’s a surprising and thought-provoking thriller that mostly feels grounded and raw, and keeps the tension up throughout.
Soft & Quiet (2022)
Written and Directed by: Beth de Araújo