SOFT & QUIET movie poster | ©2022 Momentum Pictures/Blumhouse/Shudder

SOFT & QUIET movie poster | ©2022 Momentum Pictures/Blumhouse/Shudder

Rating: R
Stars: Stefanie Estes, Olivia Lucciardi, Dana Millican, Melissa Paulo, Eleanore Pienta, Cissy Ly, Jon Beavers, Jayden Leavitt, Shannon Mahoney, Rebekah Wiggins, Nina E. Jordan, Jovita Molina
Writer: Beth de Araújo
Director: Beth de Araújo
Distributor: Momentum Pictures/Blumhouse/Shudder
Release Date: November 4, 2022

For genuine, stomach-churning horror, Michael Myers, Pennywise the Clown, and the whole pantheon of the Cthulhu Mythos have nothing on the women of SOFT & QUIET.

To be clear, kindergarten teacher Emily (Stefanie Estes) and her friends and acquaintances don’t have a single supernatural power between them. None of them are serial killers, part of a doomsday cult, or hear voices. One of the scariest things about them is their everyday appearance and demeanor. When Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil,” she could have been talking about these people.

Since both the brief description of SOFT & QUIET and its trailer are light on details, the better to increase our dread as things proceed, we’ll just say that Emily has invited a few gal pals, and several friends of theirs, to the first meeting of a little group.

Some are married, like Emily and Kim (Dana Millican); some are single, like younger women Leslie (Olivia Lucciardi) and Marjorie (Eleanore Pienta). Some are moms, some are childless. There are pastries and tea; Emily has made a pie.

They’re here both for immediate camaraderie, and to brainstorm about how best to share some of their ideas with the wider community.

Anybody who has ever been around a group of women happy to find themselves among like-minded souls, regardless of what brings them together, will recognize the pitch-perfect dynamics created by writer/director Beth de Araújo. There is spontaneous sisterhood and real warmth, even as a power structure asserts itself, with who is confident, who is eager to please, who feels she has something to prove and who doesn’t.

As both the IMDB synopsis and the trailer reveal this much, it can be said that Emily and some of the group go to the store for some wine. There, they encounter some other people.

SOFT & QUIET proceeds in something like real time, although since the film runs an hour-and-a-half, there’s some condensation. It’s sufficient for us to feel an impending sense of doom and wondering whether there will be any relief at all, for us if not for the characters.


SOFT & QUIET | ©2022 Momentum Pictures/Blumhouse/Shudder

The performances are excellent and natural as possible, with Estes going through a lot of phases, Millican as the kind of tough suburban matriarch we’ve all encountered, and Lucciardi and Pienta as two different kinds of enthusiastic joiners. Melissa Paulo also registers strongly.

De Araújo puts in one unnecessary coincidence (we get what it’s doing there plot-wise, but there were other ways of achieving the result). Otherwise, SOFT & QUIET is all too lifelike.

SOFT & QUIET lives up to its title in that there is no on-camera gore, but it lodges in the mind and in the spine in ways that many other, more graphic horror films do not. We’re increasingly frightened at each turn it takes, because it’s all so dismayingly plausible.

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