There is always something exciting about a thriller, it is in the name after all. But when there is a distinct lack of either performance or development of a character, any and almost all that excitement dissipates as intentions are no longer secretive and, without some jaw-dropping twist, the movie becomes a predictable disappointment. Olivia West Lloyd directs this thrilling horror story beautifully, but didn’t give enough credit to her secondary characters and, instead of flipping the script on the audience, lets things play out exactly how you think they would in her first feature Somewhere Quiet.
At the beginning of the film, we see our protagonist, Meg (Jennifer Kim), stumbling out of the woods, approaching a truck driver who notices her emerge, clearly needing help. Meg draws a shout gun on the truck driver, takes his truck, and peels off yelling to herself. Then, it cuts to black. We find out shortly thereafter that Meg is a survivor, a fighter, and has just escaped a brutal kidnapping. A few short months later, her husband, Scott (Kentucker Audley), decides that they should escape to the countryside to his parents’ remote cabin in Cape Cod. Immediately, something feels off as their relationship feels like walking on shattered glass. Given the circumstances, it is understandable, however, this trip seems like an idea made of sheer nightmare fuel. When arriving at this cabin in Cape Cod, Meg is trying to still process her trauma and trying to rekindle her relationship with her husband. Then a cousin, in the form of Madelin (Marin Ireland), shows up and things get more uncomfortable and rockier. Things start to feel off to Meg, and, as the movie progresses, we get lost in her web of mystery and thoughts regarding her current situation, the kidnapping, and everything else. All of the red flags are present and accounted for. The question remains though, is Meg just having trauma-induced PTSD, unable to trust anyone, or are her suspicions valid while she’s in fight-or-flight mode all over again.
Jennifer Kim (The Dark End of the Street) is the undoubtable star of Somewhere Quiet, and, unlike the title, she is certainly not quiet. She is screaming for help literally and figuratively and everyone around her is silent. She just experienced a traumatic event in her life, one that very well could’ve led to the end of her life, and everyone else wants to move on like it’s normal. She is demanding to be heard, wanting to regain some form of self, but no one seems to want to help her and it leaves her on constant guard, briefly touching on the trauma that an event like this could leave with someone. This is where Olivia West Lloyd’s script and her direction shine the most, carefully creating this character that just screams endlessly for help and realizes she must do it herself. She is the aftermath of all final girls, and Jennifer Kim delivers that on a tenfold, having audiences thoroughly engaged and attached to Meg throughout the film.
However, the issues lay where Somewhere Quiet doesn’t focus on Meg, shifting its focus to Scott and Madelin. There is something larger going out between these two, despite their relationship, and it is incredibly apparent. It may be the way that Olivia West Lloyd wants the audience to feel and further our connection to Meg, but engaging in that kind of storytelling, all of the cards cannot be shown to the audience with the hope there’s a secret ace laying in the sleeve. While Kentucker Audley (Strawberry Mansion) and Marin Ireland (Hell or High Water) certainly bring forth strong, disconnected, and disjointed performances, they are ones that leave the mystery in the city while the story is taking place in the woods. With the lack of mystery and being thrown into the headspace of Meg leaves an uncomfortable eerie feeling, the third act doesn’t have the payoff possibly intended, and this makes the movie less satisfying than expected. However, Jennifer Kim is revolutionary, and that alone makes the journey one worth taking.
Screening during Tribeca Film Festival 2023.
For more information, head to the official Tribeca Film Festival Somewhere Quiet webpage.
Final Score: 3 out of 5.