Directed by John Pogue
Advertising for The Quiet Ones says, “From Hammer Films, the studio that brought you The Woman in Black and Let Me In, comes the unnerving tale of The Quiet Ones…” There is no mention of The Resident, though The Quiet Ones is closer to it in tone and mood: It’s got a lot of Gothic atmosphere and good actors playing kooky characters struggling to save face through a rather illogical story.
If you’re willing to take the ride into crazy town, you just might enjoy this retro tale of possible demonic possession set in a solitary and crumbling estate outside London. Jared Harris (from “Mad Men” and Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows) plays Professor Coupland, who, along with one of his university students, Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), conducts a paranormal experiment on Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke, “Bates Motel”), a young woman who harbors dangerous and perhaps even demonic secrets.
A hybrid of old-school haunted house horror and the found-footage subgenre, The Quiet Ones is also based on a true story. The script draws on the Philip Experiment of 1972 (Canadian academic researchers tried to prove that telekinesis, poltergeists, and the like manifest solely through the human mind), but that’s where any semblance of truth ceases to be. The real-life assessments did not include satanic cults, love triangles (in which one of the points isn’t entirely human), torture or violent deaths, but the movie sure does! As the team of researchers delve deeper into Jane’s troubled psyche, everyone begins to question whether or not everything is “just in her mind.”
The look and sound of the film are amazing and work well in concert. Production design and sets are glorious, as are the sound design and accompanying music, which is peppered with early-70s Brit-rock by the likes of T-Rex and Slade. (By the way, between the blaring pop songs and every character shouting “Jaaaaaaannnnne!” at the tops of their lungs, this movie is absolutely mis-titled.)
Though The Quiet Ones does not quite work as a throwback to Hammer’s heyday, and it’s not exactly cutting edge or original enough to redefine the found footage conceit, it does, however, serve its purpose as a decent time-waster.
2 1/2 out of 5