The Movie Waffler New Release Review - SOMEWHERE QUIET | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - SOMEWHERE QUIET

New Release Review - SOMEWHERE QUIET
A kidnapping survivor begins to question her husband's motives.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Olivia Lloyd West

Starring: Jennifer Kim, Kentucker Audley, Marin Ireland

Somewhere Quiet poster

Having largely lain dormant for decades, "gaslighting" returned to the lexicon a few years ago, though it's now more often than not wielded incorrectly. The verb "gaslight" of course refers to Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play 'Gas Light', in which a husband attempts to drive his wife insane, but look it up on a social media platform and you'll find most people just use it when someone says something they disagree with (in some quarters it's replaced "mansplaining"). With so much talk of gaslighting in recent years, it's surprising that we haven't seen a fresh wave of thrillers that employ Hamilton's format.

One movie that does fall squarely into the Gaslight sub-genre is writer/director Olivia West Lloyd's Somewhere Quiet. Here we have a classic case of an emotionally fraught woman who may or may not be in the process of being manipulated by her husband into believing she's lost her mind. There's also a racial element added into the mix, though this aspect often plays like an unexplored afterthought.

Somewhere Quiet review

Some time after surviving a traumatic abduction, Meg (Jennifer Kim) is brought by her old money husband Scott (Kentucker Audley) to his family's beach house in Cape Cod. The idea is that she can recover in the tranquil, off-season surrounds and avoid the media circus that has followed her since surviving her ordeal.

If you've watched enough thrillers or horror movies, you know heading off to an isolated house is always a recipe for disaster, so it's no surprise that Scott's plan has quite the opposite effect on his troubled wife. On the first night she accidentally breaks a plate, only to find the shards have disappeared the following morning, with Scott claiming it was a glass she broke rather than a plate. Scott also denies sleepwalking during the night, and reminds Meg that her doctor warned her she may at times be unable to distinguish dreams from reality.

Somewhere Quiet review

Things take a turn for the worse when Scott's brash, wax-jacketed cousin Madeline (Marin Ireland) calls over. Living with her terminally ill mother close by, Madeline increasingly imposes herself on Scott and Meg, showing no compassion for the latter's desire for solitude. She also seems awfully touchy with Scott.

Ireland's performance is both the film's greatest strength and its weakness. She plays the role like a snarling Disney villainess and is always entertaining, but this doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for her character. Madeline is clearly up to no good from the off, purposely making passive aggressive gestures to Meg, often with a racial element. "Is Meg short for something?" she asks. "Yes," replies Meg, "for Megan." She speaks Korean to Meg, who doesn't have a word of the language, having been adopted at the age of three. If Madeline wants to cosy up to Meg and drive her nuts, why would she purposely get off on the wrong foot in such a manner? Everything Madeline does only serves to drive Meg away.

Somewhere Quiet review

Meg is a confusingly written character. At some points the film leads us to believe she's too intimidated by Scott to question certain matters, but at other times she's happy to engage in blazing rows with her husband. The racial element works well in the form of Madeline's micro aggressions, but other aspects, like Scott and Madeline's family history of Korean missionary work, are never really explored and come off as a shoddy attempt to be timely. At times the film leans into stereotypes of Asian timidity while attempting to subvert that very notion. For a more convincing recent version of this, see Paris Zarcilla's thriller Raging Grace.

Kudos to Kim, whose performance leads us to overlook some of her character's inconsistencies, at least while viewing. Lloyd's structuring of the film means that we're too busy guessing what's at play to interrogate some of the flaws in the script. I'm not sure why she chose to withhold certain details from the viewer while pushing others upfront, like the in media res opening which leaves us in little doubt as to what sort of film we're watching. Some people love to treat a movie like a puzzle and spend the running time second guessing the filmmaker, but I've always preferred the Hitchcock school of laying the cards on the table and giving the audience more information than the protagonist possesses in order to generate suspense. There's not much in the way of suspense here, and few shocks, but it's elevated above Lifetime thriller of the week fare by its three central performances.

Somewhere Quiet
 is on UK/ROI VOD from February 5th.

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