Soft & Quiet has to be one of the most uncomfortable movies I have ever watched. Debuting at 2022’s SXSW Film Festival, this searing thriller essentially follows a white supremacist group of females presenting themselves as the so-called Daughters for Aryan Unity. Throughout the course of the movie, this group’s mantra about supporting one another through “multicultural welfare” is a coded and subtle way of saying they are all racist bigots with hatred in their heart. Stefanie Estes plays the lead, Emily, an elementary school teacher who causes a ruckus in the opening scene over a black janitor mopping near where a student will be walking. This movie practically made my skin boil, and will no doubt be extremely divisive amongst genre fans.
Writer/director Beth de Araujo wisely has Soft & Quiet presented without a single cut to its filming, creating the appearance of one continuous shot. This serves to amplify the disturbing elements, and stretch the story to its breaking point considering the all-in-one-night nature of its premise. The film was acquired by Blumhouse ahead of its SXSW Film Festival debut; there is little surprise here given the overall quality and genre potential.
The women at the center of the movie seem almost in competition for who can offend viewers the most. A swastika pie to kick off their meeting leads into lengthy discussions about white privilege, feminism, immigration, and homeschooling. Intense slurs and confrontations in the final act push the agenda of these women to dizzying heights that reinforce their own dastardly beliefs. However, they are not some overly-exaggerated villains with twisty mustaches, but reminiscent of real people who actually carry this thought process.
While demolishing racism altogether may seem like a distant pipe dream, Soft & Quiet is an exemplary cautionary tale about what happens when one takes nasty comments and gives them a real-world application. At what points do words transform into physical violence? For those easily triggered, Soft & Quiet should undoubtedly carry several different trigger warnings along with its content. Hate crimes are no laughing matter—how does one look away from the horrors unfolding before their very eyes? The sad reality is that these types of events exist in our modern society, whether we would like to think about them or not. There are no easy answers when it comes to approaching the type of deep-seated hatred portrayed within. The only way forward is to look inward, and to pray that these type of hateful acts become less frequent.
Soft & Quiet screened at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.