The Quiet Ones
Rated PG-13, 98 min. Directed by John Pogue. Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Laurie Calvert.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., May 2, 2014
Things just don’t go bump in the night in The Quiet Ones. They resound with the ear-shattering force of a sonic boom. But startling and scaring an audience are two different things. On that count, The Quiet Ones is a whimper of a horror film unworthy of the legacy of its production studio, Hammer Films. Purportedly “inspired by true events” – seldom a good sign in the genre – the movie recounts an Oxford professor’s unorthodox psychological experimentation (circa 1974) on an extremely damaged young woman named Jane Harper (Cooke). Jane isn’t simply a basket case who’s repeatedly attempted suicide and spent most of her adult life confined to mental institutions. In the view of Professor Coupland (played with creepy effect by Harris), she has an ability to manifest negative emotional energy in the disguise of paranormal events, such as telekinetically slamming doors and summoning other frightening visual and aural phenomena. The objective of his dangerous and unethical research (today we’d call it torture) is to disprove the supernatural and cure mental illness by extracting the bad juju from Jane’s recipient body and relocating it to another physical form for ultimate destruction. Re-reading this plot synopsis will not improve your comprehension of it.
What follows is a seemingly random series of events in which Jane bleeds, burns, or screams, accompanied by sound effects at full volume and a series of cigarettes chain-smoked by the madman in charge. There’s no sense of trepidation in The Quiet Ones, because suspense requires a cogent storyline to either create or defy the viewer’s expectations. This lack of plausible narrative is either the result of lazy filmmaking or shortcut editing. Either way, you lose. Even the appealing Claflin, who plays the naive and sensitive cameraman hired to document the proceedings, is unable to make this movie accessible on some level. Perhaps it was a strategic mistake for the Hunger Games sequel star to keep his shirt on during the filming of this movie. A glimpse of his bare torso might have made it momentarily interesting.