SXSW 2022 review: ‘SOFT & QUIET’ and infuriating and terrifying and brilliant.

SOFT & QUIET

Playing out in real time, SOFT & QUIET is a runaway train that follows a single afternoon in the life of Emily, an elementary school teacher. Emily organizes the inaugural club mixer of like-minded women, and she indoctrinates them into her sisterhood. When they all decide to move the meeting to Emily’s house, they stop at the local store to pick up refreshments, where an altercation breaks out between two sisters and the club that spirals into a volatile chain of events.


Having a film run in real-time is already bold. In Soft & Quiet, that is the tip of the iceberg. Essentially, a group of Karens sharing their super racist views embrace each other at their first official group meeting. The dialogue takes every offensive, cliché, and horrifying thing spewed over the internet, heard on cell phone footage, and in national rallies, especially since Obama was running for office. Government suspicion, recruiting, homeschooling, The Constitution, traditional family, you name it, the subject appears in this script. It’s like reading through the comments section on Facebook or 8chan. It’s terrifying. 

Handheld camerawork immerses the viewer inside the film, moving from speaker to speaker, moving with the action. The amount of rehearsal this must have required is mind-boggling. The subtle digs are clever. Leslie’s jacket reads “Lieben Zu Hassen” which translates from German to English as “Love To Hate.” I have to hand it to this cast. It is the nonchalance that kills you. To say vitriolic things and act in such a vile manner, you have to trust your director and your fellow cast members. The hidden humor of these women traveling in a minivan is unmissable.

As you awkwardly cringe at the horror of it all, your level of anticipation simmers wildly. It’s so uncomfortable your palms will sweat. The film is sliced right down the middle. The first half respects the title, and the second half goes off the rails. As the terror increases, your heart will be in your throat. Soft & Quiet is a powder keg. It is pure rage-fueled, technically coordinated, chaos. This film deserves a hard and loud standing ovation for writer-director Beth de Araújo. This is a thrilling masterpiece. 


Director:

Beth de Araújo

Executive Producer:

Robina Riccitiello

Producer:

Josh Peters, Saba Zerehi, Joshua Beirne-Golden, Beth de Araújo

Screenwriter:

Beth de Araújo

Cinematographer:

Greta Zozula

Editor:

Lindsay Armstrong

Production Designer:

Tom Castronovo

Sound Designer:

William Tabanou

Music:

Miles Ross

Principal Cast:

Stefanie Estes, Olivia Luccardi, Eleanore Pienta, Dana Millican, Melissa Paulo, Jon Beavers, Cissy Ly

Additional Credits:

Jon Cooper: First Assistant Camera, Matt Hadley: Gaffer, Elodie Ichter: Colorist, Bridget Bruce: Costume Designer, Jillian Johns: Costume Designer, Music Supervisor: Ella Sahlman


To learn more about SXSW22 click here!


Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: “Culture Shock’ takes fake news to task with genre realness.

CULTURE SHOCK

The White House and their white nationalist propaganda make for great resistance in art these days. Hulu’s Blumhouse Into the Dark series is now streaming Culture Shock to its subscribers. Using real-life scenarios as a jumping-off point, this film takes illegal immigration beyond the hell we’re currently seeing at our border and brings it into true sci-fi territory. Our leading lady wakes up in a Valley Of the Dolls nightmare with its sweater vests and pastel coordinated everything and begins to lose time and all sense of rea Something about this “American Dream” is way off. Once she cracks the code, nothing can stop her from escaping.

Performances are eerie and amazing. Genre legend and timelord extraordinaire, Barbara Crampton plays a motherly figure looking after Marisol and her newborn baby. She sets the tone for the remainder of the film with her saccharine-sweet smile and creepy overbearing politeness. She is outstanding. Martha Higareda is the real wow factor. You are rooting for her the entire way and hope she gets everything she seeks. Her IDGAF survival attitude is pure magic. The script is edgy and brings a major creep factor that gets under your skin. The enhanced audio editing is a fantastic tool that heightens the inevitably squirming you’ll do while you watch. The story is one that will resonate with so many people living their own version of what is looking more and more like the American nightmare. This is a stunning debut feature for director Gigi Saul Guerrero and I know the industry, as well as Fantasia International Film Festival fans, can be excited for whatever comes next.

CULTURE SHOCK

Blumhouse unleashes ‘TRUTH OR DARE’…Watch the Trailer – We DARE You

Lucy Hale (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf) lead the cast of Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, a supernatural thriller from Blumhouse Productions (Happy Death DayGet Out, Split).  A harmless game of “Truth or Dare” among friends turns deadly when someone—or something—begins to punish those who tell a lie—or refuse the dare.

Directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2), the thriller co-stars Violett Beane, Nolan Gerard Funk, Hayden Szeto and Sophia Taylor Ali.  The film was produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum and executive produced by Wadlow.

BLUMHOUSE’S TRUTH OR DARE – In Theaters April 27