This article presents me with a bit of a challenge. When I rented this movie the other night to watch it, I knew absolutely nothing about it, save for that the film plays out in real time – our 90 minutes are the characters’ 90 minutes. And, all truth be told, I think that is absolutely the best way to watch this film. So, if you want to feel every bump in the road and second guess yourself at every opportunity like I did, my advice would be to save this article, go and watch the Soft & Quiet movie, and then come back to this.
This movie made me sick to my stomach. I had to pause it twice. Once to check doesthedogdie.com and once because my chest couldn’t take the strangle hold it was within while watching. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t paused the movie as it broke some of the tension that Beth de Araújo took such painstaking lengths to build. Put your phone away. Turn off the lights. And gather snacks that you absolutely will not eat after the first fifteen minutes. There are no cheap jump scares, or especially gory scenes. The violence is brutal, but not beyond the capabilities of a seasoned watcher of horror films. But, my God, I will never watch this movie again… but I’ll think about it for the rest of my life.
If you’re still here, I’m about to spoil everything.
The choice is yours.
Synopsis of the Movie Soft & Quiet
I am going to give you the briefest synopsis of Soft & Quiet possible here to allow for discussion, but not to ruin the film’s conclusion.
A group of women, led by Emily (played by Stefanie Estes), a kindergarten teacher from a small town in the US (any small town) meet up in a church rec room with an accompaniment of sweet treats, fresh coffee, and, brought by Emily, a freshly made pie with a swastika carved into the crust. Yes, a swastika. The group is called the “Daughters for Aryan Unity” and the creeping sense of dread you’ve been feeling since Emily indoctrinates a young child she once taught to reprimand a Latina cleaning lady at the school, begins to come to a head. Before, of course, plummeting into the macabre and heart rending violence that the path of this movie will take you on.
And here, folks, I end the synopsis. You honestly need to watch it for yourself.
Racism and Horror in Explaining Soft & Quiet
As I’ve written before, and will write again, horror as a genre is far quicker and more brutal than any other at reflecting the negative aspects of our society back at us. Racism within horror is not new. You might trace it back to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but Horror and her Gothic sister, have long been used to ‘Other’ that which is not white, respectable, and heteronormative. However, history lesson aside, this film is like no other. Not even the most famous example of racism within horror in the last decade, arguably, Jordan Peele’s Get Out has the impact that the Soft & Quiet movie is able to inflict (in my humble opinion).
Emily utters absolutely terrifying words to her assorted collection of racist, prejudice, all round evil housewives and single ladies, when she ushers them towards a – you guessed it! – soft and quiet approach to their insidious violence. Newsletters for indoctrination, bake sales and casual wine nights for conscription, and all the white women of this non-descript small town can form their own Nazi party within America’s borders.
The irony is, as most racist rhetoric usually incurs, is that the two non-white sisters that the group target have every right to be furious with these self-righteous women. After being extorted over a bottle of wine, it is revealed that one of the sisters suffered a sexual assault at the hands of Emily’s brother (this is not stated outright but heavily implied) and the two are rightfully outraged – and voice this opinion. Which, Olivia Luccardi’s character, Leslie, proceeds to condemn as “sass” and a perfectly justifiable reason for the ensuing brutality.
The usual assortment of reasons are offered for the other woman’s reasons for partaking in the bloodshed. Promotions they did not get, a nicer home than their own, an internal hierarchy being defiled through said “sass” all coalesce to form a nebulous reasoning for white supremacy-rooted practical joke turned murder.
But, as we can see in the Soft & Quiet movie, these are not the real reasons for the attack. They are transmutable. Adaptable. Amorphous blob reasons that can be shifted and moulded to fit any situation these women find themselves in.
As long as they are the victim, and non-whites are the aggressors, the world moves on an even keel for them.
I’ve tried my best not to spoil the larger plot points at work here. And that’s in service to hoping as many people as possible watch this film. Even if you take away the technical skill and detail of the movie Soft and Quiet(the film is edited to look like on continuous shot, you never leave the side of these white supremacists), and the stunning performance of the cast – this film should still be on your watch list. It takes note of disparate winds in modern politics and transforms them into a stunning, vomit-inducing, tense piece of cinema.
And isn’t that what good horror films do?
The hatred in this film, the anger, the vitriol, and the sheer audacity of having these prejudices are all real. We all know that there are serial killers out there alá our favourite slasher films. Some of us may believe that there are demons out there akin to Pazuzu and Paimon in the vein of The Exorcist and Hereditary – but these villains of horror never run for office, and don’t organise pressure groups to influence entire societies. Soft & Quiet shows us the seedling beginnings of similar movements; ordinary folks who don’t understand the world anymore (or refuse to), huddling together in fear, plotting how to right the world to their vision once again.
It would be pitiful if it were not so terrifying.
Last Updated on June 20, 2023.