By Shane M. Dallmann
Oxford professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) is convinced that “supernatural” phenomena can be directly traced to telekinetic energy stored in the human brain… and to that end he’s carrying out a series of dangerous experiments on a willing young subject by the name of Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke). Well, the local bobbies keep showing up at the door due to the noise complaints (despite the title, part of Jane’s treatment involves keeping her awake during certain hours) and it isn’t long before the university itself defunds the project. Nevertheless, with the help of two loyal students and a recruited cameraman (Sam Claflin), Coupland continues the now unauthorized project off-campus… the idea being that if the evil energy stored inside Jane can be transferred into another object, it can be destroyed, leaving the patient “cured” for the benefit of all mankind…
THE QUIET ONES shows up with remarkably poor timing during the current glut of “found footage/psychic phenomena” movies, but the new Hammer Films production still puts its own unique feel on the proceedings. For one thing, we’re in 1974, so we’ve got actual film cameras that require hard stock (this is not a faux documentary and we get plenty of “live” action to go with the various “dailies”); we’ve got miniskirts, we’ve got rampant cigarette smoking… and no, that’s NOT Quiet Riot on the soundtrack… that’s SLADE!
The more we delve into the less-than-professional motives of the professor and the various sexual chemistries between the characters (“Take your hands out of his trousers now, please” takes the cake as the best line in the movie), the more we recognize the blatant influence of THE HAUNTING; meanwhile, without saying too much, I’m also obliged to relay that I noted a significant page from a certain infamous Michael Powell thriller. Still, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best, right?
Performing said stealing is writer/director John Pogue; and while he’s only directed one previous feature (QUARANTINE II, still unseen by me), he’s the scribe behind THE SKULLS, Dark Castle’s GHOST SHIP and the ROLLERBALL remake… so he’s pretty much responsible for all of the shortcomings of THE QUIET ONES, including not only the familiarity of the script but the film’s insistence on attempting to blast us out of our seats with a new (and very loud) “boo” scare approximately every five minutes–when will more filmmakers realize that overshock tends to lessen impact?
Nevertheless, there’s plenty of good to be had here as well: in addition to the period setting and soundtrack, THE QUIET ONES benefits from strong and convincing casting… Harris and (especially) Cooke deserve to be singled out for praise, but everybody carries his weight during this outing and keeps boredom well at bay.
So in the end? Sweet perfection is, alas, not achieved–but there’s still some highly decent big-screen Hammer Horror to be had here, and that’s always a good thing!