[Tribeca Film Festival Review] SOMEWHERE QUIET

[Tribeca Film Festival Review] SOMEWHERE QUIET

For several years now, we’ve seen an onslaught of movies exploring heavy themes such as trauma and grief through the lens of horror. Notable examples include The Babadook, David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy, Midsommar, Smile; the list goes on. It’s so trendy that it’s become a bit of a running joke for genre fans. Enter Olivia West Lloyd’s SOMEWHERE QUIET, a twisty thriller that will immediately feel familiar to anyone who has been keeping up with these popular entries from recent years.

Meg (Jennifer Kim) was recently involved in a horrible kidnapping. After the ugly ordeal, she decides to take a trip with her husband Scott (Kentucker Audley) to his family’s secluded vacation spot in Cape Cod. Things start out okay, and it does seem to offer the tranquility that Meg desperately needs. It’s soon revealed, however, that Scott’s cousin Madeline (Marin Ireland) is staying at a cottage nearby to take care of her bedridden mother, and soon enough, she starts to interfere with Meg and Scott’s trip.

What follows is slow, simmering, and psychological, with tension coming from all directions. Not only is Meg recovering from a traumatic incident, which triggers intense flashbacks and nightmares, but now she also has to contend with hostility, microaggressions, and gaslighting from both Madeline and Scott. The three leads are reliably solid performers and make the ordeal a painfully uncomfortable one to watch at times (one could describe the overall experience as more uncomfortable or tense rather than downright frightening).

SOMEWHERE QUIET embraces the familiar

The horror imagery here is stuff we’ve seen before (sleepwalking, creepy folks slinking around the woods, etc.) presented in a familiar but competent way. While the cast carries the material well, part of me wishes the script was a smidge tighter. I appreciate that it’s engineered to keep you guessing, but there are maybe one too many threads here. Is Meg imagining things? Supposedly, her doctors have told her that trauma can lead to an active imagination. Is Scott hiding something from her? What’s Madeline’s endgame? What’s the deal with their family? It is implied that the Whitman family has a nefarious history, with the town folks not thinking kindly of them. The pacing here is admittedly consistent, remaining relatively grounded until the end.

Not every thread has to be tied up perfectly, but a cleaner story or stronger characterization might have helped it to stick the landing more gracefully. By the time it reaches the conclusion, things are still a bit hazy, and I was left wondering if the film perhaps tries to bite off more than it can chew. Beneath the obvious “trauma as horror” trappings, it’s clear that the movie has other themes on its mind. When it comes to trauma, however, I admire what SOMEWHERE QUIET has to say about it and how it presents that message.

Things won’t ever be the same again for Meg. She’s a different person now and always will be. Her brain chemistry has fundamentally changed. Like her, we, the audience, are left to deal with the aftermath.

SOMEWHERE QUIET had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival on June 8th, 2023.

Tom Milligan
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