A look at the budding “quiet western” subgenre

Originally published at: A look at the budding “quiet western” subgenre - Boing Boing



In the case of early genre precursor, Dead Man, gunshots punctuate the quiet while maintaining a thoughtful, slightly removed mood throughout.

The original slow/quiet western was, of course, Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, with no score other than three songs by the then unknown Leonard Cohen. That movie is now over 50 years old and (sadly) nearly forgotten, there had been nothing else quite like it prior to its release.


Good call. My first thought was Peter Fonda’s “The Hired Hand” which does have a couple shootouts but is mostly slow and brooding.


Also because Westerns were cheap to produce and took advantage of wonderful terrain/scenery close to Hollywood.


Ironically The Great Silence is a very noisy film even if its star is not.

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I was gonna say Ballad of Cable Hogue, which apparently came out the year before


Saw Power of the Dog recently and loved it. I wouldn’t have called it a ‘western’ at all. It may have had a similar setting but that’s all.

@NatalieDressed (oh - another BB Contributor who cannot be communicated with) it is canon not cannon.
Would someone correct this please before yet more people view it and think it correct, coming from such an authoritative source as BB?


Like about the second or third week of the pandemic. No aircraft, few cars, no visitors, no ship horns, fewer trains shunting.

Or during a snowy power outage. No refrigerators, no furnace blower.

Had to look that up. Thank you.


Oh I love sublime long shots and minimal dialogue…

Now that we have these amazing cameras the effect should be really impressive too.


This dredged up memories of a great sketch (in 3 parts, spread over the course of the episode) on BBC’s Alas Smith & Jones sketch comedy show back in 1990 about slow Western films.

Oh wait, the mute was on. My bad!


The quietest Western that comes to mind is the Tom Waits segment of the Coens’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Just one old coot talking to nature.


I’d like to see a quiet horror movie. Long shots so you can barely make out what’s happening, but it’s still horrific. Jump scares that come not from whiplash editing and musical stings, but in the sudden realization of what is happening. Or just a distant sound effect that means something incredibly bad just happened (I actually see this one a bit, though never in horror movies. Most recently it was someone leading someone else away to be executed, but instead of only one distant gunshot, there was two).

Exorcist 3 is the best example I can come up with at the moment. Brad Douriff scaring the piss out of me just by quietly talking. Maybe 3/4 of It Follows.

Suggestions welcome.


I’m not a horror aficionado, but Let the Right One In came to mind.


Yes, thank you for reminding me of that one. Mainly the original. Especially the pool scene, plus the moment we realize the hell our young protagonist is doomed to.


You know I like the sound of that… also love slow burn horror but I’m struggling to think of one that really also incorporates the natural environment and is more horror than suspense/survival drama.

The trailer is a typical trailer and makes it seem more energetic than I remember. Maybe not super quiet, but pretty slow and unsettling.


Good call, though I’ve never really considered it a horror movie. There are definitely a few scenes which fit exactly.

I thought about that before posting it.

It’s sci-fi I guess, but there is a certain creepiness that makes it horror (all those scenes in the weird infinite black room and the victims falling into silent depths, the one guy who escapes and finds himself naked walking across the moor in the cold – who hasn’t had the old “naked in public” nightmare.)