The Quiet Ones Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Lionsgate
Directed by John Pogue
Written by John Pogue, Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman & Tom de Ville
2014, 93 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Theatrical release date: 10th April 2014
Jared Harris as Professor Coupland
Sam Claflin as Brian
Olivia Cooke as Jane Harper
Rory Fleck-Byrne as Harry
Erin Richards as Kristina
Laurie Calvert as Phillip
Due for a UK release in April, The Quiet Ones is Hammer Films' first of three horror pictures this year. Who said Hammer Films was slowing down?
Unorthodox physics lecturer Professor Coupland hires amateur photographer Brian and his best students Harry and Kristina to help him cure a mentally troubled girl, Jane Harper, through his obscure scientific methods. Isolating themselves in a remote manor house, Coupland and his crew force Jane to face the dark passenger, named Evie, that’s been haunting her since childhood. They may have a plan, but how far can an experiment go once it turns deadly?
Hammer Film Productions wanted to make The Quiet Ones feel like a 1970s Hammer horror, and it certainly fixes its feet to the era's nostalgic roots from its props to its production. True to the Hammer cult's trademarks, visual style leads the way with dark, creepy atmosphere and gothic scenery. If you thought The Woman in Black's continual lurking in the shadows was intense, you're in for a real tense ride here.
This is one tightly strung horror movie in terms of scare factor. Sequences are snappy in direction and even more harefooted in execution. Whether it’s a sudden reaction during a séance or the clapping of hands that uniquely transitions the diegetic recorded film - and in turn the movie itself - you'll find yourself jumping from your deck more times than a scratched vinyl.
Paranormal investigations are three a penny in horror today and aren't likely to halt anytime soon. While Paranormal Activity sequels and similarly inspired films fall into the garbage heap before marketing can even muster a dodgy tagline, some of the more interesting ones are often low budget and creative. The Borderlands (2013) is a good example, and The Quiet Ones dotes on classical tropes and aesthetics to help secure its favourable fate in this over-crowded subgenre.
And that fate is crafted by a host of talented - if not sometimes camp - acting by a convincing ensemble too. Harris steals the show as a controlling character that gradually unravels his troubled manner and demented motives, and Claflin, who you may or may not have seen recently in the latest Hunger Games sequel, embodies the initially easily led but strong minded character of Brian. Cooke is undoubtedly a rising star, and Richards and Fleck-Byrne play by no means sideline performances either.
Scare seekers and Hammer fans may be satisfied with its compelling aura alone, but it won’t be enough for all. At the crux of it the problem lies in its slow-burn middle and lacklustre plot development. Rejoicing in a pungent mood but meandering around a mild plot, it craves a full-blown revelation that never quite pans out. Well, with much of a climax anyway.
The initial problematic situation that drives the story lacks substance and instead focuses attention on character relationships and distractions - an interesting diversion to the underlying science and supernatural debate and one that surfaces it from the horde of similar possession/mythology stories. But it's one that eats up screen time more than we'd probably like, and ultimately doesn't add much to the film's overly convoluted outcome. It's not a long movie, at just over ninety minutes, though its middle mumbling makes it seem like a two hour plus picture.
A refreshing, if not satisfyingly original, return for Hammer horror then. Stylistically, The Quiet Ones is quite a success and will be a welcome addition to any cult fan's collection. It looked like the company was lost in a two year pause, but if this is a sign of what's to come, I can’t wait to see whether Hammer can bring more sparkle to the seemingly bleak 2014 horror landscape.