SXSW Review: Soft & Quiet (2022)

The thriller, which plays out in real time, follows a single afternoon in the life of an elementary school teacher as she organizes a mixer of like-minded women. When the group heads home, the teacher encounters a woman from her past, leading to a volatile chain of events.

Disturbing Films at film festivals isn’t as uncommon as some people would think it is some I’ve seen in the last few festivals I’ve been in include Pleasure (Sundance 2021), The Kids (Tribeca 2021), Resurrection, Palm Trees and Power Lines, Speak No Evil and Piggy (Sundance 2022). I saved Soft & Quiet to review last because not only is it my favorite of what I saw at SXSW 2022 but it’s definitely something that I thought about every since I saw it. This is the type of disturbing film from right at the beginning it’s filmed in this very realistic style, the first 15-20 minutes trick you into thinking you are going to watch something nowhere near as disturbing as the plot or people who have seen the film may suggest. However after that it kicks it up to eleven and you are faced with a female white supremacist group or “Women For Aryan Unity”spewing a lot of terrible things that I won’t repeat here for obvious reasons. But what your imagining is accurate, the film gets even more disturbing when the group comes across two Asian sisters at a convenient store, what follows is some very disturbing scenes which I won’t say much else. What truly makes this whole film disturbing is how raw it really is from the acting, writing, filming and so on, it completely takes this disturbing concept and truly turns into something all the more nightmarish. The sad reality about this movie is that this is very real, one of the characters in the group is a PTA mother someone that you wouldn’t expect to act like a monster, which is what the film is telling the audience. People think they know the characterization of a white supremacist or just a downright terrible person, however that could be anybody. Anyone is capable of being a horrible person, something that the film does well at is not to go over the top. As I said earlier the film is very raw so the characters don’t feel like cartoons, which makes it all the more terrifying. Soft & Quiet is a horror film not in the traditional way but the film is terrifying and is definitely real life horror on events that are sadly very real, it’s a film that will make you angry and disturbed. Soft & Quiet is something that is 100% not going to be for everyone, some people are going to think this shouldn’t had been made while others are going to think this is an important film and does a good job of showing the harsh reality of cases like this happening. This is definitely something I do recommend watching once it releases but know what you are getting into

Soft & Quiet currently has no release date.

10/10 A+

SXSW Review: Sissy (2022)

Teen best friends Cecilia and Emma, after a decade run into each other. Cecilia is invited on Emma’s bachelorette weekend where she gets stuck in a remote cabin with her high school bully….and a taste for revenge.

Sissy was hands one of the best films I saw at SXSW 2022, it’s yet another slasher film that is quite fantastic. Not only does it have very brutal kills that actually surprised me quite a lot, but the acting is actually very solid here particularly Aisha Doe who I definitely think is a future star. The writing is really strong especially when it comes to suspense and building certain characters, the movie takes it’s time getting to the kills by introducing the characters and establishing an atmosphere before the film lets all hell break loose. Speaking of which the atmosphere is thrilling and gets you on the edge of your seat especially when you combine the dialogue that is surprisingly raw at times, lastly there’s the direction from Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes that really make the film standout. Where as some slasher films forget about having thrilling atmosphere, decent characters and so on, Sissy brings that to the table which is very refreshing to see. Sure it might not break new ground but everything combined truly makes this film work.

Sissy currently has no release date but will be released by Shudder later this year.

9/10 A

SXSW Review: I Love My Dad (2022)

A hopelessly estranged father catfishes his son in an attempt to reconnect.

I Love My Dad is a film that shouldn’t work but somehow it does. The film is about a dad who misses his son so he catfishes him, what makes it work however is James Morosini (director and one of the leading roles) takes his life experience (yes it’s based on a true story) and make it very strangely entertaining. Patton Oswalt is another major factor on why the movie works, his performance as Chuck is both hilarious and very well fitting, Claudia Sulewski also does a really solid job. There’s a lot of cringe comedy here but it actually works in this movie’s favor mostly due to combining the comedy with some genuinely touching moments that actually do a great job of building the characters of Franklin and Chuck, the ending is a bit on the weak side it kind of feels like a cop out after such strong development and a very solid story. It just doesn’t really go into much depth as the rest of the movie does however that isn’t enough to stop it from being such an entertaining ride, is this going to be for everyone? Definitely not but if you are intrigued by the plot you should definitely check this one out when it releases.

I Love My Dad currently has no release date.

8/10 B+

SXSW Review: Shadow (2022)

From an automatic spellcheck, to omnipresent domotica: what is looming for us when computers are no longer merely complementing our actions, but taking over the steering wheel? Will the machines treat us as stupid and inferior, the way we have treated people with an intellectual disability for millennia? Simon, Scott and Sarah, a trio of neurodiverse activists, trigger the debate in the presence of a group of peers. They all attempt to take the lead in the discussion.

Shadow is another one I won’t spend too much time on as it is only 56 minutes long, but it’s a film that has a cast comprised almost entirely of neurodivergent and disabled actors. It’s a very powerful piece where they get these groups together to talk about the future of human rights, the performances are extremely raw and really paint the picture of how much this discussion means to everyone involved. The film gives a voice to communities who are often ignored, just sitting there and listening to each person’s thoughts is very captivating. Although I do wish some topics were expanded upon that still does not take away from how powerful the movie really is, there’s some genuinely humorous bits combined with a few debates that are very thought provoking. Shadow is a wonderfully done 56 minute movie that really gets you invested!

Shadow currently has no release date.

7/10 B

SXSW Review: Tony Hawk Until The Wheels Fall Off (2022)

Follows famous skater Tony Hawk’s personal life, career and relationship with skateboarding, including never-before-seen footage and unprecedented access to Hawk, along with interviews with figures from the skateboarding world.

Honestly there isn’t a lot here to be said despite the documentary being 2 hours and 15 minutes, what we have here is a deep dive into Tony Hawk’s career and him as a person. The documentary surprisingly goes in great depth and has this element in it about moving on as you get older. Tony Hawk is a skateboarding icon heck a sports icon at this point, yet we still learn so much more about him from this documentary it feels very personal and really grabs the attention of the viewer quite well. There’s so much detail in this documentary to the point where it’s quite fascinating and while yes some of the information is common knowledge it’s still beautiful to hear Tony Hawk talk about his career, the only main flaw with the documentary is the running time as I said earlier it’s 2 hours and 15 minutes. Which I do feel like 10-13 minutes could have easily been trimmed because it does feel like the documentary crams a little too much information at once at times. However everything else about this documentary is incredibly solid and quite interesting, even if you aren’t a fan of Tony Hawk or skateboarding I do highly recommend checking this out!

Tony Hawk: Until The Wheels Fall Off will release April 5th on HBO and HBO Max!

8/10 B+

SXSW Review: The Unknown Country (2022)

A young woman grieving for past losses receives an unexpected invitation, leading her onto a solitary road trip across the American Midwest.

The Unknown Country is quite an interesting piece about a woman grieving who drives around the country and interacts with many different people. Right off the bat I absolutely loved the documentary/narrative hybrid, it works so well here and really captures the raw emotions of every person in the film. There’s a lot of moments that feel very Chloe Zhao like with a mix of Terrance Malick especially when it comes to the cinematography, there’s so many human moments as well it’s almost like you are going on a trip with Lily Gladstone as she takes around the Midwest of the country. There’s so many beautiful landscape shots that really compliment this film well, they add so much to the narrative being told and the documentary like style itself, plus the film pretty much shows the daily lives of the people shown in the film. It’s a very human film that really gives you all sorts of emotions, overall The Unknown Country is a fantastic film that was one of my favorites from SXSW definitely check this one out once it releases.

The Unknown Country currently has no release date!

8/10 B+

SXSW Review: Seriously Red (2022)

A realtor pursues a new career as a Dolly Parton impersonator.

Seriously Red is a blast of a film, there’s so much to the film that creates such a humorous picture. The cast are absolutely incredible Rose Byrne as an Elvis Impersonator and Krew Boylan as an Dolly Parton impersonator in particular are very strong here, they both do such a fantastic job and really nail the impersonations in both a beautiful and hilarious way. The music is top notch it’s a huge celebration of several different music artists and really captures why people love them so much, Gracie Otto’s direction is brilliant she really did a fantastic job of creating the most musical like atmosphere you can think of. What truly makes this great is how much fun the movie is and how much fun it has with itself, it knows what it’s sent out to do and accomplishes just that beautifully. There’s a few jokes that don’t completely land but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives in this case! If you are fan of any of music in general this is something you might like!

Seriously Red currently has no release date.

8/10 B+

SXSW Review: Under The Influence (2022)

When Casey Neistat first sat down to interview YouTube sensation, David Dobrik, neither of them knew they were about to capture one of the most precipitous rise and falls in the history of the internet… in real-time. David, protected by the belief that he’s just a kid with a camera, has constantly assumed risks. Even as a story of a sexual assault breaks, he’s busy covering up a near-lethal accident caught on film, intended to be entertainment. In the real world, these kinds of actions have life-changing consequences, but in the gold rush ecosystem of Social Media influence, the audience decides who succeeds, and who gets banished forever. 

I heard about a David Dobrik documentary being made but I assumed that it was going to be slapped on to YouTube and that would be the end of it. So I was surprised to see it at SXSW and decided to watch it out of pure curiosity, this is pretty much the story of David Dobrik and the controversies that happened particularly what happened to Jeff Wittek and the situation involving Durte Dom. If you were going into the documentary hoping for new information you aren’t going to get any here, if you know everything that happened nothing in this documentary is going to be new maybe except a few reactions from a few people. The most interesting thing about this documentary is how the public who has no idea about this situation is going to react, will the discussion of why Dobrik walked away with his career still intact be discussed again? Will this lead to more people speaking up and coming forward? As far as filmmaking goes it’s fine, there’s really nothing noteworthy about it outside of a few shots that are pretty neat. I do think there’s a conversation to be had about how your own platform can turn you into a completely different person in a negative way, which is definitely the strongest part about the documentary. But everything else is either common knowledge or nothing very interesting, overall Under The Influence is a documentary that will be good for people who have no idea about David Dobrik not so much for people who are well knowledgeable about the subject.

Under The Influence currently has no release date.

4/10 D+

SXSW Review: Women Do Cry (2022)

A promising musician named Sonja learns that she’s contracted HIV. After she drops out of the music conservatory, Sonja is helped out by her practical sister Lora, who supports the family by working as a crane operator, and their hapless mom Ana.

Women Do Cry is a tough one, on one hand it does a decent job of presenting some very heavy subjects and has a fantastic performance from Maria Bakalova, there’s some really touching and powerful moments about gender as well. The problems come in with execution, as I said earlier the movie does a decent job of presenting the heavy subjects to the audience but the execution is very debatable. Plus when you put in so many subplots that have no reason to be there, it gets in the way of the story being told. Which is a huge shame because if you took away the several subplots and fixed up the execution I definitely think this would be a pretty strong movie. Not much else to say here, it’s decent enough but not something to ever look back to.

Women Do Cry currently has no release date.

6/10 C+

SXSW Review: The Cellar (2022)

A woman must confront an ancient and powerful entity after her daughter mysteriously vanishes in the cellar of their new home.

The Cellar was definitely one of my most anticipated films for SXSW and this was very disappointing, the third act is by far the best part about this film since it lets all hell break loose and goes completely bonkers. What kills this movie is everything else before that, The Cellar takes way too long to get it’s ideas fully realized, there’s a lot of cliche haunted house parts in the movie that do a very sloppy job when it comes to build up. However the movie slowly becomes something far different from when it started which leads to the final act, but by this point it’s too little too late and the movie is almost over, sure it results in some very fun scenes that are a complete blast. However it makes you wish that the rest of the movie was like that, had they introduce these ideas in the second act I definitely think this would have been a very creepy movie that would go on to be sort of a hidden gem. Overall The Cellar is a huge missed opportunity that could have been something truly special had the writing improved.

The Cellar releases on Shudder April 15th

3/10 D-