One of the most iconic and horrifying images from a horror film happens at the end of 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) escapes in the back of a truck from a chainsaw-yielding Leatherface. Her face and clothes are covered in blood, she’s watched all her friends die, and Sally’s cries turn into a peal of maniacal laughter. Whether it be Laurie Strode in the Halloween series or Sydney Prescott in Scream, an undescribable amount of weight comes with being a “final girl.” Imagine having to live with all those images in your head. Nowhere or person would ever feel safe – you'd always have to be on guard. Even if the killer could be captured or killed, there’s always a feeling of that essence being right behind you.
Enter Meg (Jennifer Kim), who has unsuspectedly emerged from being kidnapped to the surprise of many (in an almost toned-down fashion to the Chainsaw Massacre scene), including her husband Scott (Kentucker Audley). Scott comes up with an idea for both of them to go to his family’s plot of land in Cape Cod for Meg to escape the noise and heal. Nothing ever feels right in director Olivia West Lloyd’s story. A trip to a convenience store on the way to the compound is a relatively anxiety-inducing experience. Scott seems like the quintessential comforting partner – often reminding Meg to journal and take deep breaths, but even his motives seem slightly skewed.
Even something as simple as the closest in their bedroom is a pillar of a constant source of PTSD. Finally, there’s the matter of Scott’s cousin Madelin (Marin Ireland). She’s overbearing, discrediting insensitivity to Meg’s Korean background and an overall propensity to be around more than the average person. You’ll think, “I thought this was supposed to be a vacation?” The point West Lloyd is crafting throughout this story is that nothing may ever feel safe for Meg – as sad as that may seem. This isn’t as overt as a monster in the basement or a presence that appears to be stalking Meg at every turn – Something Quiet plays in coy in spelling it out that many of these things are just a symptom of what Meg has gone through.
Cinematographer Conor Murphy creates an inverse effect on the beautiful forestry landscapes throughout this Cape Cod home. While the foliage tends to be vast, the outside is painted overcast, and these three characters are highly isolated from the world. There are ways in which Meg is positioned, looking out of windows and investigating things in the house, making the audience feel the way she’s feeling. It’s only heightened by the soundtrack comprised of Ariel Marx in everything coming together, making for an unnerving experience.
As the third act unfolds, more questions arise about Meg’s abduction, as there is a particular tie to Scott’s family that I will not speak to. It will leave you questioning the validity of everything you see – that’s the point. Somewhere Quiet’s magic doesn’t lie in a multitude of jump scares (although there are swaths of disturbing images sprinkled in), but the fact that trauma acts like that piece of gum that never quite gets off the bottom of your shoe. You can scrub the bottom as hard as you want, but there will always be some residue left behind.
Madelin stays in a house a few miles away and says she cares for her sick mother, that never leaves her room. It just happens that Meg sees an older woman standing on a pathway. Is that Madelin’s mother or just a manifestation of Meg’s fears playing out in real-time? Reality is in the beholder's mind; sometimes, that could be the scariest thing.