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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell J.

True Horror is Soft & Quiet (2022)

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Title: Soft & Quiet

First Non-Festival Release: November 4, 2022 (Limited Theatrical Release)

Director: Beth de Araújo

Writer: Beth de Araújo

Runtime: 91Minutes

Starring: Stefanie Estes, Olivia Luccardi, Eleanore Pienta, Dana Millican

Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here

Editor’s Note 12/30/2022. The following warning has been added to aid as an appropriate content warning for the film in question. It must be said before this review continues that this film depicts deeply upsetting scenes of racialized violence, bigotry, and sentiments that may be upsetting to People of Color, Jewish people, and other racialized or marginalized groups. Proceed accordingly and know that it is easily skippable should this be a non-starter for you. I apologize for not adding this content warning earlier and for any harm done to readers who were harmed due to that omission.

Well-liked school teacher Emily (Stefanie Estes) leads an inaugural meeting of like-minded women in the upstairs of a church. There, she and these other women share food and stories while lamenting on the state of the world. After the meeting ends prematurely, a few of the women go to a grocery store to pick up some wine before encountering a woman from Emily’s past. From there, a volatile chain of events occurs changing the lives of all the women forever.

Raw and brutal, Soft & Quiet is an uncomfortable examination of racism and groupthink in America.


The first, and most obvious twist, of Soft & Quiet is that its group of leading ladies are a club borne from the backlash of a society more progressive on race relations. Each character represents specific aspects of racism and explores why and how these attitudes fester without justifying it. From actual Klan members to disgruntled employees angered at affirmative action, this group of women project their insecurities and fears on the boogeyman of the other to regain a sense of power.

Their insidious views on race are objectively unconscionable and they are presented as such. While it may not appear nuanced, the takes on how white women glide through the world by being delicate (soft) and covert (quiet) do hit quite hard. This strategy of appearing delicate and innocent allows them to get away with doing harm under the guise of not being too harsh or cruel in their manner of speech, despite their intentions.

While it would be easy to say Soft & Quiet is solely about white supremacy it also delves into uncomfortable questions on groupthink and compliance. The terrifying evening breaks down as Leslie continues to escalate the situation as a way to pay back the affront Emily suffered in Kim’s grocery store. What stands out is Leslie’s approach to solidarity.

Deep down, she truly doesn’t believe the things that she stands for. Community is something she values, as that is all she had in prison. She found racism when she stood with other white people who protected her from the realities of jail and decided that is what she needs in her life to be happy and fulfilled. She takes on the role of guard dog before fully taking over as a leader in the horrors and eventually operating as the head “fixer” to cover up their crimes. Her development is perhaps the most disturbing because she doesn’t truly care about what she is saying, she just wants the acceptance of those who can't do it themselves.

Bold filmmaking choices help Soft & Quiet stand out from the crowd of realistic social horror films of the new decade. Shot in one continuous take, the story happens over the course of 90 minutes which keeps the action taut and lets the shocks come in real time. But there’s more to this. Writer and director Beth de Araújo refuses to let you look away from this. From every horrific word uttered by these women to the pain they inflict on others, Araújo forces the audience to stay present without any breaks as a way of putting them in the role of helpless bystander, as if begging you to say or do something.

While incredibly uncomfortable and dynamic of a film, it does have its faults. Its characters become caricatures easily. When the second and third act bleed into each other, the intensity of the character arcs of each individual racist white women gets turned up to an 11 without any sense of place. Much of their dialogue and many of their actions play out as if they had been ad-libbed after reading a two-sentence description of their character and not one of a fully fleshed out film. This is most noticeable in the dialogue, which gets circuitous especially in scenes where Leslie and Emily are fighting. Certain character’s motivations also seem shaky at best for following along with the plan, especially Marjorie’s obsession with dancing and drinking and also Kim’s decision to bring a gun along for the journey.

Additionally, the films protagonists get little time to develop as characters, and, rather, exist to serve as the moral foil to the group. Both Lily and Anne pass through the action without the opportunity to truly become characters. Aside from their history with Emily and a few pieces of information they supply at the grocery store when they encounter the group of women, there isn’t much to them. It’s disappointing because while their humanity is a focus, their agency is evaporated.


Soft & Quiet is not for everyone. Through its clever filmmaking strategies and truly terrifying escalation of action, this indie film shocks and disturbs with its real-life horror. Eschewing a more traditional story by using time as the major guiding force of the narrative, Soft & Quiet succeeds in telling a timely story. Many people do not need a film to remind them about the messages behind the film, but it is still relevant enough that the material is still fresh and engaging. A tough and terse experiment in endurance, Soft & Quiet is a feel-bad horror movie with enough punch to knock audiences off their feet.

Overall Score? 7.5/10

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