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The Quiet Ones – Review
April 8, 2014
Hammer Films was a popular production company in the 60s and 70s before it shut down but has since then been resurrected like the plot of so many of its films and brought to the screen several titles including: The Resident, The Woman in Black and now The Quiet Ones. Hammer horror films in their prime were serious efforts to horrify and excite the general public and the acclaimed Dracula (1958) starring Christopher Lee is one of their more notable films. The Quiet Ones does take itself seriously too, but loses its fear factor towards the end and that’s a shame as most of the film is very good.
Inspired by real events, the story focuses on the rehabilitation of Jane Harper who appears to flit between being possessed and just pretending. She is so aloof and unpredictable that the plot hinges on the performance of Olivia Cooke and boy, does she nail it. Cooke can be alluring and repulsive in the same scene and make it all seem natural; her performance is exemplified next to our other lead Brian MacNeil (Sam Claflin from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) who is an extremely predictable nice guy. Brian is tasked with recording the experiment with his camera, bringing the film into ‘found footage’ territory which is distracting and can ruin the tension. Although ‘found footage’ is common in horror films, so much so that it has almost become a staple of the genre, I couldn’t bring myself to find that it added to the scares but it did show another side of the characters behind the camera. The movie is also let down by the appalling use of CGI that really takes you out of the atmosphere that the film has worked so hard for.
The tension is driven by focusing on atmosphere and the characters themselves, starting with Professor Coupland (Jared Harris of Mad Men fame) who starts the experiments on Olivia in an attempt to discover the supernatural. His determination to see the experiment to the end is sometimes more eerie than Jane herself. One of his experiments is to keep Olivia awake through the night by playing loud music in an attempt to flush out her ‘demons’ with negative energy. He is joined by his students Kristina and Harry who are also believers in the supernatural. Kristina is the only other girl in the group, inevitably inciting the rage of Jane as the two attract the men’s attention. This adds an element of sexual frustration and jealousy to the horrific experiments so that it is both eerie and uncomfortable, creating a truly unique horror experience.
The small cast invites intimacy into each character as we see them throughout the film work with each other, but also emphasizes that they are truly alone with a girl who is sweet one minute and deadly the next. Set in the 70s at the height of Hammer Horror films, The Quiet Ones is an amicable reprise of their previous work. There’s a lot to like about the film but there will be those like myself who won’t appreciate the ending and I feel the line will be drawn by those who believe in the supernatural and those who don’t; as Kristina says to Brian “We can’t have a non-believer in our group”. The film spoils itself with poor CGI, but otherwise the performances and characterization are top notch and fans of Sam Claflin will be interested in seeing just how good he can be outside The Hunger Games. Pulling you into the world of possession, scepticism and fanaticism The Quiet Ones overall keeps your interest and adrenaline high.
The Quiet Ones is out in UK cinemas on April 10th