Directed by: John Pogue
Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards
The Quiet Ones is the latest film to come out of Hammer’s legendary studio, after their revival with the phenomenal success that was The Woman in Black – which was a traditionally scary Hammer flick with a good lead in Daniel Radcliffe. The Quiet Ones, however, is Hammer in name only, as it does little to encapsulate what made them successful in the first place.
Inspired by the true events of 1972’s ‘Philip Experiment’ in Toronto, Canada, Professor Coupland (Jared Harris), along with a team of university students, are attempting to conduct an ‘experiment’ on a young girl in the hope of creating a poltergeist.
The film carries a lot of problems that many mainstream modern horror films have. It lacks structure. To be precise, it lacks an entire first third. We’re plunged straight into the middle of the film, and we miss all the aspects that usually occur at the beginning. We have no connection with any of the characters because we know next to nothing about them, and they’re never developed further than what we initially see. We’re in the dark about much of the context too, and we have no idea about any of the characters’ relationships.
This poor screen writing has nothing on the characters, who are lazily written and act as stereotypical caricatures. Sam Claflin is a charismatic, young actor who has an exciting career ahead of him, but you’d never get that from this film. In his defence, he’s given nothing to work with. His character is dull, unlikeable and underwritten – and we’re supposed to care about him and what he does? No thanks.
Modern horror relies heavily on quiet moments, mixed with very loud moments to create scares. The Quiet Ones relies too heavily on this – it should actually called The Quiet, Quiet, Quiet…BANG ones – which makes the film predictable and unoriginal. John Pogue tries to create a feeling of tension, but with every loud bang and crash the tension is broken and he has to start again. It’s like watching a child learning to walk. They walk a few steps, fall over, and then do it again.
The supernatural horror genre has quickly come to prominence and just as quickly become boring and overdone. The Quiet Ones script is generic, and it has the constant feeling that it’s going somewhere interesting before changing direction until the anti-climactic ending. If you’ve ever watched possession or ghost movies, and I wager you have, then you’ll feel like you’ve seen this movie done before, and better.
There are a few saving graces. Jared Harris is quite terrific as the sadistic college professor. He gives a subtle but satanic performance. He’s unpredictable; you never know where he’s going to go or what he’s going to do. The film also has an excellent seventies style. The use of T-Rex and Slade gave the film a different feel to many horrors and the set design was impeccably put together. It nails the retro horror that Hammer were made famous for.
The Quiet Ones falls into the mainstream horror category that’s not clever, not scary and not particularly interesting. It’s just loud. Probably too loud. If you want a Hammer horror fix, you’d be better off checking out The Woman in Black, which is a competent British horror film. Or just watch Christopher Lee prance about as Dracula, it’s much more entertaining.