Too quiet, dammit! Show some guts!
An unorthodox Oxford professor sets up an experiment to prove his theory that poltergeists manifest themselves through the traumatized minds of unstable people. A couple of students will assist him with manipulating an emotionally scarred female guinea pig. Loosely inspired by a true story.
The long-overdue and long-awaited revival of the legendary Hammer Studios has been one with very mixed successes thus far. ‘Let Me In’ (2010) and ‘Wake Wood’ (2010) were more than adequate and compelling fright stories, while ‘The Woman In Black’ (2012) and – especially – ‘The Resident’ (2011) were mediocre and even barely endurable efforts. ‘The Quiet Ones’, their latest effort, sadly also leans more towards disappointment than satisfaction. I was extremely careful with my expectations towards this film because, in spite of several promising elements, it remains a clichéd and derivative synopsis. The film luckily isn’t one of them dreadful “found footage” horror flicks, but it’s nevertheless a variation on it. The film luckily also isn’t a childish ghost movie, but still, also a variation on it. ‘The Quiet Ones’ is a potpourri of all this and more, and allegedly it’s inspired by true events, so experienced genre fans already know they ought to be skeptical.
The best thing about the whole film is probably Jared Harris‘ intriguing performance as the slightly unorthodox and obsessive Oxford University professor Coupland. He has a controversial theory that evil spirits don’t just randomly possess innocent victims, but rather that emotionally weak and vulnerable persons create the poltergeists themselves through manifestations in their traumatized minds. He sets up an experiment to prove this, recruits a couple of students to assist him and even manipulates the young and mentally unstable Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) to participate as the guinea pig. When the Oxford board of directors decides not to fund and support his experiment any longer, the group nonetheless carries forward their work in a secluded old countryside mansion. Suffice to say the experiment quickly goes awry, as Jane’s poltergeist alter ego – named Evey – doesn’t allow the professor to be researched and/or controlled.
It’s painfully clear and obvious almost straight from the beginning that director John Pogue doesn’t have the power or the courage to insert any raw, shocking or even remotely horrific imagery. ‘The Quiet Ones’ is, once again, a thriller that fully relies on false scares and sudden jump moments that lead absolutely nowhere. This could have worked reasonably efficient if the overall atmosphere is unsettling throughout and if the viewer could identify with the lead characters, but that’s not the case either. Coupland’s students are uninteresting and colorless personalities and Jane’s character remains bland and underdeveloped. The locations, scenery and ’70s time frame aren’t used optimally and – worst of all – there’s a nearly unacceptable shortage of action. The few séance sequences are dull and pointless and the poltergeist only demonstrates its genuinely evil nature at the very end of the film. Positive aspects include, as said, Jared Harris‘ arrogant performance and the fact I repeatedly heard that good old rock classic “Come on feel the noise” by a band named Quiet Riot.
Trailer on YouTube.