Shudder’s Original is a stiff, sluggish descent into bloodthirsty madness

The ever-growing gem of a streaming platform, Shudder, has given us some amazing platform-exclusive horror movies, including the latest abduction thriller The boy behind the door, which is worth your look for the nail-biting excitement. More often than not, anything labeled a “Horror original” is pretty solid. It hurts me to claim that they have a rare miss. Their new exclusive feature from author / director Amelia Moses, Soft with me, is a rigid and sluggish attempt at an atmospheric descent into bloodthirsty madness. What opens with a promising gloomy mood and striking, secluded setting becomes a beat through slowly-burning horror conventions, while mediocre actors behind sterile characters neglect to add any strange life.

Moses broke out with vampire horror in 2020 Bloodthirsty, and is still obviously thirsty for blood, and returns with a quick follow-up that also includes blood pertinent in the film and title. It follows a shy and paranoid young woman along her secluded woodsy cottage escape, where she is in third place with a couple of dislikes who do not even seem to care for her. It’s an ancient horror recipe for the atmosphere of hell, memorable weird moments and an eerie climax. Soft with me may benefit from having some of it.

RELATED: The Boy Behind the Door Review: Shudder’s Abduction Thriller Is All Gritty Thrills, No Silly Frills

The film opens with obligatory, beautiful images of winding snow-covered hills and forests. Rowan (Lee Marshall) travels with her colleague Emily (Lauren Beatty) and Emily’s boyfriend Brendan (Arias Tyros) to get to a cabin owned by Emily’s family. During their travels, a few facts become clear: Rowan is depressed and tense. Shy and consistently not feeling well. She does not talk much, but hears her anxious thoughts aloud. It also becomes clear that she is in an unfortunate third wheel situation with Emily and Brendan, who are horny for each other and have the mold personalities.

At first, Brendan hardly even talks to Rowan – a good colleague of his girlfriend, with whom they must have been invited. It takes before they all arrive at the cabin before Brendan actually asks, “How do you know each other again?”

Emily does not introduce herself as a friend to Rowan and often gets hot and heavy with her boyfriend in front of her. Brendan eventually warms up a bit to Rowan and starts talking more to her, which Emily is aware of with the jealous look.

At one point, Rowan cuts herself before Emily willingly sucks the blood from her thumb.

The chemistry between Rowan and the couple feels even less personal as time moves on. She spends quite a bit of time alone in the attic looking at photos. Rowan’s anxiety increases to the daily and nocturnal nightmarish sight. Soon, her paranoid visions begin to emerge in reality.

Looking at Soft with me, one can sense what Moses was shooting for – A strange and deeply surrounding, eerily slow combustion that casts a disturbing feeling before direct terror unfolds. Unfortunately, it lacks the eerie events, strange behaviors of intriguing characters, or peculiar sensitivity to form the appearance of a surrealistic build-up before shock finally subsides, halfway through the film. At that point, however, you have seen almost an hour with a humble, empty personality girl suffering from anxiety while hanging around in a hut with a pair of equally empty personality idiots. Efforts of the surreal nature of slow-burning either need characters that are so strange that they give the fever-dream feeling, or characters that are so sympathetic that you like them. These characters are lifeless.

Adams has ideas, one of which is a plot similar to that of the cult classic Let’s scare Jessica to death, but the formula for “is this paranoia or genuine” search is all too familiar; we know what to expect, and modern audiences demand strong performances and a little weird excitement throughout the eerily slow rise in tension.

What we have with us Soft with me is a team of amateurs who are too hollow to give this project a bizarre breath of life. It does not need lifelessness. Soft with me very well should have an off-beat pulse. The formula is fine and setting is great. Moses’ plot, though not overly inspired, is good enough to bring new bizarre elements to.

The cabin is lavish but old and potentially haunted, sitting in secluded icy forest. Rowan is a pathetic leader with a sense of victimhood in an unfortunate situation. A creepy build-up against ghostly conclusions should be a given, but the actors are dry young people going through stock movements. The characters themselves do not do much of anything. 20 minutes after I finished the movie, do I have a hard time remembering what they’re into at all? They just engage meaninglessly in quick, boring small talk chats before breaking out into their own world. When sub-artists can not subtly sneak us out while getting a little done, we as the audience are forced to sit impatiently and watch an old trick slowly unfold before us.

Nearly an hour inside, Moses sets us up with the first bit of unsettling terror when Rowan dreams of walking into Emily gnawing on a bloody human thigh in front of the fireplace. The scene is well framed, with a crackling fire going on, and Emily bowed eerily. Arriving so late, however, it is mostly an opportunity for the viewer to sigh and shout “Finally!” We needed blood or gut or something really weird and creepy after such a long, uneventful building. From then on, what violates is what we wanted, but exactly what we expected.

It makes you all question what the purpose is. We’ve seen slow-moving vampire movies before. We all caught a few “cabins in the woods”, atmospheric haunts. Soft with me does not wander a new route, but it suffers more from the mere laziness of trudging along a tried and tested route – one that can potentially offer new zest for life when approached with an inspired flair. The actors in Soft with me do not bring Moses the flair. As a filmmaker, Moses can clearly write and stage a frame that is both eerie and beautiful and place a vulnerable character under bizarre awkward circumstances, but this project needs more eccentric performances and a stranger or more hallucinatory touch. Although I came into the film with hope and would end up recommending a new piece of horror, Soft with me is boring and not worth it.

Topics: Gys

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Movieweb’s official policy or position.

Give a Comment