Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Movie Review: The Trip to Italy

The Trip to Italy
Directed by:  Michael Winterbottom.
Written by: Michael Winterbottom.
Starring: Steve Coogan (Steve), Rob Brydon (Rob), Rosie Fellner (Lucy), Claire Keelan (Emma), Marta Barrio (Yolanda), Timothy Leach (Joe), Ronni Ancona (Donna).

The Trip to Italy is the third movie this summer – following Chef and The Hundred-Foot Journey – which could be described as food porn. The difference between this film and those two other films is that for me at least, I actually enjoyed the film itself – and all that delicious looking food was an added bonus, and not the main show. A follow-up to The Trip, where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon played fictional versions of themselves, travelling through North England stopping at restaurants along the way for a series of articles for The Observer, The Trip to Italy has the exact same premise, except, obviously, this time they’re in Italy. In the first film, not to mention Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story from the same director (Michael Winterbottom), which also cast Coogan and Brydon as themselves, found the two as rivals. Coogan, in particular, was rather petty and small in those previous films – he is the more famous of the two (especially outside England, where Brydon is barely known at all) – yet Coogan still seemed somewhat jealous of Brydon, who was much more comfortable in his own skin, and much more comfortable being known as a comic actor instead of anything else, while Coogan dreamed of being the star of a Coen brother movie. The rivalry is still present in The Trip to Italy – but it’s much more muted. The two have settled into an fairly easy friendship – and even when Brydon gets offered a role in a Michael Mann movie, which clearly makes Coogan jealous, it’s never really remarked on – instead it’s all done with looks from Coogan, and a few back handed compliments.

The movie is at its best when it’s just Coogan and Brydon alone – either at one of the various restaurants they eat at, or alone in the car (where they are often singing along to Alanis Morissette) and the two of them are just basically trying to make each other last. The pair break out their greatest hits – dueling Michael Caine impressions for example – with great results, but also adds some new material in it as well. The two like an audience – and late in the film when they have one, they go even bigger, trying to top each other, and get bigger laughs from their appreciative audience.

I think the movie works a little better than the original The Trip – perhaps simply because the scenery in Italy is better than in Northern England, but also, I think, because the movie seems a little more relaxed. Coogan and Brydon aren’t trying quite as hard this time to one-up each other, and instead work together as a great comic team. Also, in the last film it seemed like the Steve Coogan show, with Brydon as little more than a sidekick, but this time they are given equal weight (or perhaps a little more on Brydon). The original film had a subplot about Coogan’s domestic difficulties – and this time it’s Brydon’s turn. He seemed content with his marriage in the last film – this time, a few years and a child later – it’s not quite that simple.

The film is perhaps a little too long, perhaps takes a few too many detours, and tries a little too hard at times to go a little deeper than a typical comedy, and perhaps has too many conversations about Roman Holiday (1953). Yet these distractions are all at least amusing – the film is never less than pleasant, and often much more. The Trip to Italy has more laugh out loud moments than any Hollywood comedy so far this year (at least of the ones that come immediately to mind). Director Winterbottom, who has pretty much made every type of movie imaginable, is smart enough to stay out of the way of Coogan, Brydon and the gorgeous scenery and food. I hope this isn’t the last trip Coogan and Brydon take together.

In Memory of The Maltin

When the news broke last week that the next edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide –to be published next month – would be the last, I wasn’t surprised, but I was slightly saddened. It is certainly an end of an era. I have had various copies of the Guide dating back nearly 20 years – from the time I was a young teenager and a cinephile in the making. For the first 10 of those 20 years I not only bought every edition of the book – I needed to buy each edition. The reason was simple – by the time I had the book for year, it was pretty much destroyed. There was rarely a day that went by when I didn’t pick up the guide to look up a title or two – and often many more. Whenever I first got the book, I went through it searching for the new reviews to see if I agreed with Maltin or not. He also often had various movie lists in the front of the book – which gave me more titles to try and track down and watch. The Roger Ebert Video Yearbooks had full length reviews, which I loved, but for obvious reasons they were nowhere near definitive or complete. Maltin was. He had mini-reviews of practically everything you could want.

I always had some problems with the book. Two stars for Taxi Driver? One and a half for Blade Runner? If Cronenberg ever hit 3 stars, it was an event. And as Mike D’Angelo pointed out in his remembrance last week, as the years went on, Maltin became increasingly strange. He rarely gave 4 stars to any new movies – and some of the ones he did (The Cider House Rules? Songcatcher?) seemed like odd choices. In many ways, Maltin became one of those old fuddy-duddy critics who claim that everything for yesteryear was brilliant, and these young whipper snapper directors couldn’t hold a candle to them. D’Angelo posits that it was that, as much as the internet that killed the Maltin. I don’t know if I agree with that – to a certain extent, Maltin was like that 20 years ago when I started reading it and it continued on for quite some time. But it certainly didn’t help.

No, the internet killed the Maltin. I mentioned that for the first 10 – roughly 1994-2004 – I bought the new Maltin every year because my copy got destroyed. For the next few years, I still bought the new Maltin every year, more out of force of habit than anything, and the books became increasingly less dog eared every year. For the past 6 or 7 years, I’ve probably one purchased one out of every two or three. I’m looking at the most recent one I bought right now – the 2013 guide, published in 2012, and it’s still in very good condition. The reason is simple – it mainly sits on a shelf now, and I pick it up maybe once a month – if that. For the most part when I want to look up an old movie now, I whip out my iPhone, open the IMDB ap, and look it up. That allows me instant access to the complete cast and crew – and all the work they’ve done before and since, the runtime – and any number of reviews – from both contemporary sources, and those written at the time of the movies release. What the Maltin has in terms of information looks rather quaint by comparison.

So in many ways, the death of the Maltin was inevitable – and perhaps even overdue. There were numerous competitors with the Maltin over the years, and I think for the most part, they all gave up years ago. But it’s still sad to see the Maltin go for a number of reasons. One is the simply joy of browsing through an edition. I can find a lot more information about a lot more movies on IMDB, but simply browsing, and picking one at random just isn’t feasible. I read reviews of movies I had never heard of before, and probably never would have, in the Maltin. I rented some, if they sounded interesting, and loved some of them. This is the same problem I have with the death of Video Stores – it’s harder to browse the streaming sites or iTunes, than it was a video store.

The other reason it’s sad is because I always thought of the Maltin as the definitive opinion on a movie – even if, as D’Angelo points out that became increasingly not the case over the years. But still, the Maltin was the official word on a movie – so whether you agreed or disagreed with a review, you felt like you were either going against the grain, or were a part of the larger contingent. I don’t think such a thing is possible anymore. There will be no definitive opinion on movies once the Maltin goes away. In some ways, that’s good, in some ways not.

The death of the Maltin is another sign of changing times in movie culture – and another thing that makes me question whether or not I would become a film buff if I was a teenager today instead of 20 years ago. The Maltin was a one stop shop for both novice and experienced cinephiles – and helped to open up a whole new world of film for me. Today, I’m not sure where I would have gone to get this information in one place, easily findable, sortable and browsable. The death of the Maltin was inevitable – but it’s still sad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Movie Review: The One I Love

The One I Love
Directed by: Charlie McDowell.
Written by: Justin Lader.
Starring: Mark Duplass (Ethan), Elisabeth Moss (Sophie), Ted Danson (The Therapist).

Spoiler Warning: The studio releasing The One I Love asked critics not to reveal the twist in the movie`s first act – which both makes sense and is pointless. It makes sense because the movie works better if you don’t know what’s coming – hell it would even better if you didn’t know there was a twist at all, but the cat`s out of the bag on that one. But it’s also pointless, because there is no intelligent way of talking about the movie at all, without talking about the twist – because it happens in the first act, its barely a twist at all, but really the premise of the movie. Still, I wanted to put the Spoiler warning in for those who have not seen the movie. You should – it`s a really good movie – but you also probably want to stop reading now if you want to see it. You`ve been warned.

The opening scenes of The One I Love play like any number of Indie dramas. A married couple is in therapy because they`ve reached an impasse in their relationship, and cannot figure out a past it. Their therapist (Ted Danson) suggests they get away for the weekend together – and even has a catalogue for the perfect getaway spot for them. They agree, and head off for the weekend. It is a gorgeous property – a great big house, a beautiful pool, a guest house and acres of wilderness around them. There is nothing for the two of them to do but spend time with each other. Perhaps this is what they need.

Before we hit the half hour mark though, the movie enters Twilight Zone territory (AGAIN SPOILER WARNING) – as the pair discover that the guest house actually does have guests in it – and not the normal kind. If just one of them enter the guest house, they will find a more perfect version of their spouse already there. At first, they just think it`s really their spouse, but then they both have strange experiences in there. And the spouse they meet in the house is seemingly a better version then the real one – less critical, less bitchy; more focused on their partners needs than the real version. Ethan (Mark Duplass) is immediately skeptical, and wants to know what the hell is going on. He questions everything to the point that the more perfect version of his wife creeps him out. But Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) starts to like the more perfect Ethan more. He`s more fun loving, more attentive, less sarcastic. It may be a fantasy version of Ethan – but she`s happier with the fantasy than the reality.

To a certain extent then, The One I Love is a puzzle movie – but it`s less concerned with the puzzle itself, than the relationship – and Ethan and Sophie`s different reactions to the possibilities the guest houses and its guests raises. For Ethan, he`s simply creeped out. Why would he want a copy of Sophie – even one who is less critical of him – when he could have the real Sophie? But for Sophie, the new Ethan is a reminder of the old Ethan – the fun loving guy she fell in love with, rather than the one who has lied to her and who she blames for the deterioration of their relationship.

The performances by the two leads are excellent. More than Moss, Duplass is essentially playing two different roles here – the skeptic, and the fun loving, care free one – and he does both very well. Moss is even better, even if she doesn’t play her own doppelganger as much, because what the real Sophie goes through is more complicated. She wants her life back to what it was – or perhaps even better than it was – and sees a way to get it. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t understand it, she’s happier than she’s been in a while – and wants to stay that way. The One I Love is basically about the difference between the reality of what a long term relationship actually is, and the fantasy of what we want it to be. In reality, we are never given the choice between the two – but Sophie is presented with that choice.
The end of the movie works – but is also the most obvious ending given the setup that the filmmakers could have come up with. Personally, I always prefer a little ambiguity in a film like this, and the filmmakers behind the one I love – director Charlie McDowell and writer Justin Lader (both of whom show tremendous promise) don’t supply that. Instead, they wrap everything up in an obvious, yet effective way. Besides, I’m not sure there was a better way to end the film. The One I Love has a Twilight Zone premise to be sure – but like the best Twilight Zone episode it uses the premise for something deeper and more real than the premise suggests.

Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller.   
Written by: Frank Miller based on his graphic novels.
Starring: Mickey Rourke (Marv), Jessica Alba (Nancy), Josh Brolin (Dwight), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Johnny), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Bruce Willis (Hartigan), Eva Green (Ava), Powers Boothe (Senator Roark), Dennis Haysbert (Manute), Ray Liotta (Joey), Christopher Meloni (Mort), Jeremy Piven (Bob), Christopher Lloyd (Kroenig), Jaime King (Goldie / Wendy), Juno Temple (Sally), Stacy Keach (Wallenquist), Marton Csokas (Damien Lord), Jude Ciccolella (Lt. Liebowitz), Jamie Chung (Miho), Julia Garner (Marcie), Lady Gaga (Bertha), Alexa PenaVega (Gilda).

I was a fan of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City back in 2005. It felt new and different – and an interesting way to adapt the graphic novels by Miller – which I had bought, and enjoyed leading up to the movie. In the years since, more and more directors have done something similar to what Rodriguez and Miller did in Sin City, with increasingly poor results. I hadn`t thought about Sin City for a while – except for whenever there was an update on the long rumored sequel, that I had believed would never actually be made. When they finally officially announced it, I was still looking forward to the movie. Over the weekend before watching Sin City: A Dame to Kill, I went back and re-read the Miller graphic novels, and re-watched the original movie for the first time in years. While I don’t think either the graphic novels or the original movie are as good as I once did – I think they are both still very good, entertaining and somewhat unique. So despite some rather harsh reviews, I was still looking forward to the sequel. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn’t live up to either the graphic novels or the original movie. There is a numbing sameness to the movie – and everyone seems to be on autopilot.

The movie adapts one of the graphic novels and another of the shorts comics that Miller originally wrote, and then two new stories that were never published as graphic novels. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two adapted from the original comics are the better of the four segments. The film opens with Just Another Saturday Night, a short, about Mickey Rourke’s brute Marv who discovers he`s been shot, and doesn’t quite remember what happened, so he slowly pieces together what happened. It`s a short, brutal, violent way to start the movie – but it works, for the most part. The other decent segment is the one that gives the movie its title – A Dame to Kill For – where Josh Brolin plays a pre-surgery Dwight (he was played by Clive Owen in the original film, but had gone through extensive plastic surgery, so it makes sense he`s played by a different actor this time). Brolin, unfortunately, is one of those actors on autopilot – he basically looks pissed off the whole segment, as he narrates the story of his old love Ava (Eva Green) coming back into his life, and completely ruining it. Ava is a typical Miller female character – basically a heartless femme fatale who would make Barbara Stanwyck blush – and she spends almost the entire segment naked, or nearly so. But she`s the one actor with a large role in the movie who seems to fully buy in, and she does a great job as a femme fatale. As she did in the unnecessary 300: Rise of an Empire (also affiliated with Miller) this year, she elevates an unnecessary sequel every time she`s onscreen – so much so that she makes almost everyone else in the film look bad.

The two original stories do not really add anything new to Sin City. In one, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Johnny – a gambler who never loses, who has his sights set on the ever powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). He wants to humiliate Roark, for personal reasons that eventually become clear. Gordon-Levitt is a fine actor, and he has already proven he handle noir dialogue in Brick, but here he is pretty much indistinguishable from the other male heroes in Sin City – who are basically as violent as the male villains, but have some sort of code. The second original story, which is intercut with the Gordon-Levitt segment, is about Nancy (Jessica Alba) – the stripper from the first movie, still in love with Hartigan (Bruce Willis) – the cop who saved her and then committed suicide to protect her (Willis shows up here, as a ghost – and I kept waiting for him to talk to Haley Joel Osment). Nancy has gone on a downward spiral, and also has her sights set on Roark – the man whose son Hartigan had to save her from twice. Alba has never been the best actress, but as in the first film, she`s a hell of a dancer, and she leaves an impression when she`s on stage – when she`s off though, she doesn’t make Nancy`s fall all that convincing – and that`s necessary, since Nancy was always the one ray of hope in the series that had none. Her downfall makes a dark series darker – yet the movie fails to make that hit as hard as it should.

Rodriguez and Miller basically shoot the movie exactly the same way they shot the original Sin City – but this time in 3-D. On the 3-D, I cannot say that I really even noticed it – even the usual complaint I have about 3-D that it makes everything unnecessarily dark, didn’t happen this time, since the majority of the film is in black and white anyway. But I don’t see much of a point in the 3-D either – it may not detract from the film, but it doesn’t add much either. I will say I still do like the overall visual look of Sin City though – with its dark black, bright whites and bold streaks of color. It looks like a film noir on crack, which is what they are going for.

But the visuals cannot save Sin City: A Dame to Kill For from being a rather dull exercise. This is a movie full of beheadings, gunfights, fist fights, a crazy doctor played by Christopher Lloyd, a heavily made up grotesque Stacy Keach and a lot of beautiful naked or nearly naked women – and yet for the most part, I was bored watching film. It doesn’t have the sense of danger the first film had and the series has lost the power to shock and surprise. It isn’t horrible film – but it is an unnecessary one.

Movie Review: Some Velvet Morning

Some Velvet Morning
Directed by: Neil LaBute.
Written by: Neil LaBute.
Starring: Stanley Tucci (Fred), Alice Eve (Velvet).

There was a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s that I felt that Neil LaBute may become one of the best American filmmakers of his generation. His In the Company of Men (1997) and Your Friends and Neighbors (1998) are both brilliant, cruel examinations of the harm men (and in the later, women) do to each other. They are tough, cynical and darkly hilarious. His Nurse Betty (2000) was a departure – a strange comedy – but was just as good. But I don’t think he`s made a great film since then. Perhaps it’s because he stopped writing the movies, or tried to go too mainstream when he did. LaBute, who got his start as a playwright continued to write plays in his trademark style, but in terms of his film work the last film of his that felt like a "typical" LaBute film was 2003`s The Shape of Things (based on one of his plays) – which I liked, but didn’t love as I thought Rachel Weisz screwed up the lead role. Last year`s Some Velvet Morning then is a welcome return to form for LaBute – at least partially. It`s still nowhere near as good as those first two films – but at least it feels like a the work of the same filmmaker who made them.

Some Velvet Morning is not based on one of LaBute's plays – although it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that LaBute originally did write it with the stage in mind. The entire movie is set in one location – a house – and has just two characters in it. Fred (Stanley Tucci) shows up on the doorstep of Velvet (Alice Eve) – with all his worldly belongings. He tells her he has finally left his wife, and his ready to move in with her. This, even though, the two broke up four years ago, haven’t seen each other, and Velvet is an upscale prostitute. She tells him she doesn’t love him anymore, doesn’t want him anymore, and wants him to leave the house. She has to go meet a client, and doesn’t want to keep him waiting. And the client may well be Fred`s adult son – the one who introduced the two in the first place. Fred refuses to leave – and this starts an 84 minute argument between the two of them, where Fred lets forth with a litany of misogyny, and Velvet responds in kind – even if she cannot quite keep up with the cruelty of Fred.

A movie like this is dependent on two things – the strength of the performances, the strength of the writing. LaBute tries to make the film more cinematic, and less stage bound, by shooting much of it with handheld cameras – but it doesn’t really work and is more of a distraction than anything else. The writing is as good as LaBute`s best work either – with too much dialogue that seems to be written for the benefit of the audience so they don’t get lost. But the performances by Tucci and Eve are great. Tucci treats the entire movie like an acting exercise – to see just how hateful he can make Fred – and although we`re always aware we are watching a performance; it’s still a great one. Eve plays things a little closer to the vest, a little more subdued, and it’s far and away the best film work she has done to date. The two go back and forth for the entire movie, inflicting pain and cruelty on each other for the entire runtime of the movie. When the scenes work, and they do more often than not, it’s somewhat mesmerizing.

As LaBute is fond of doing Some Velvet Morning comes with a twist ending – one that forces us to reconsider everything we`ve seen in the movie up until that point. The ending works, wonderfully, and if you`re being generous you could even argue that what we learn at the end makes even the films earlier problems make sense. I wouldn’t go that far, but the end of the movie does work.
If there is a larger problem with Some Velvet Morning it’s that none of it feels new – not for LaBute anyway. He`s done this type of movie before – and far better – than he’s done here, and his insights into the cruelty people inflict on each other, and the different roles men and women have in society, are rather dated. But Some Velvet Morning shows that LaBute still has it – still has the potential to make another great movie. He hasn’t shown that in years – going through the motions with a terrible movie like the horror remake The Wicker Man, or the lame thriller Lakeview Terrace or the unnecessary Americanized Death at a Funeral. And surprisingly for a movie that is built almost entirely on non-stop dialogue, they moment that sticks with me the most is the final silent shot. What precisely is going through that characters mind in that shot? That question still haunts me a few days later. I hope that LaBute continues with this type of movie, instead of those previously mentioned in this paragraph. At the very least, it feels like he has finally returned to the type of movie he should be making.

Movie Review: The Railway Man

The Railway Man
Directed by: Jonathan Teplitzky.
Written by: Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson based on the book by Eric Lomax.
Starring: Colin Firth (Eric), Nicole Kidman (Patti), Jeremy Irvine (Young Eric), Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd  (Finlay), Sam Reid (Young Finlay), Tanroh Ishida (Young Takeshi Nagase), Hiroyuki Sanada (Takeshi Nagase), Michael MacKenzie (Sutton), Jeffrey Daunton (Burton), Tom Stokes (Withins), Bryan Probets (Major York), Tom Hobbs (Thorlby), Akos Armont (Jackson).

The Railway Man is about a British WWII veteran, Eric (Colin Firth) who suffers so greatly in a Japanese POW camp that he remains emotionally closed down two decades later. He doesn’t talk about what happened – not even with the men he was imprisoned alongside, or his new wife Patti (Nicole Kidman). He is a railway enthusiast, and spends his time riding the rails, and making money however he can. The movie flashes back and forth in time to his time in that camp, and his life now – and eventually his quest to track down one of his tormentors.

In many ways, the movie follows it main characters lead. It is, for much of its running time, as devoid of emotions – other than sadness – as Eric seems to be. This has led to describe the movie as dull – and to be fair, it is fairly dull at times – but it worked for me. How else can you make a movie about an emotionally closed off character other than to allow the film to be as quiet and somber as its main character? This classically constructed film, which does play things a little too safe, however does lead to powerful climax, which doesn’t quite play out the way we expect it to.

As the older Eric, Colin Firth gives a fine performance. He is a quiet man – outwardly he is intelligent and thoughtful. He doesn’t raise his voice – ever – and chooses his words carefully. For years, he basically suffers in silence – but then he meets Kidman`s Patti – and falls in love. But she knows he is hiding his wartime past – is haunted by it, and also knows if they are ever to be truly happy, he needs to deal with it. She goes to see one his old friends (Stella Skarsgaard) – who tells her what he knows. But that’s only part of the story.

The wartime scenes, where Eric is played by Jeremy Irvine, are weaker than the scenes set two decades later. Director Jonathan Teplitzky plays these scenes with restraint, and taste, as if he wants to protect the audience from the horrors Eric suffered. But there is no protecting Eric, and the film is weaker for this withholding. A more daring film might have jettisoned these scenes altogether and simply told the present day story. But there is little daring about The Railway Man.

This doesn’t mean that the film isn’t good – just that it’s not as good as it could have been. Firth is great – and the final scenes, alongside Hiroyuki Sanada as the older version of one of his tormentors, who is just as haunted by the war as Eric is, are the best in the movie. There have not been enough movies that acknowledges the humanity of people on both sides of the war – particularly the Japanese in WWII. The climax works because the film doesn’t go in the direction we expect it to – and because the performances of the two actors are so good.

The Railway has its share of problems – it`s too safe for such horrific content. The film wastes talented actors like Kidman, who cries really well, and doesn’t get much else to do (she is not really a character – but pretty much a fantasy perfect wife character) and Skarsgaard, whose final act in the movie rings false.
But the scenes in the film that work make up for the ones that don’t. This is not a great film, but it is a good one – a well-acted study of men who will never get over what happened in the war, but can learn to choose to move on with their lives.

Movie Review: The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones
Directed by:  John Pogue.
Written by: Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman and  John Pogue based on the screenplay by Tom de Ville.
Starring: Jared Harris (Professor Joseph Coupland), Sam Claflin (Brian McNeil), Erin Richards (Krissi Dalton), Rory Fleck-Byrne (Harry Abrams), Olivia Cooke (Jane Harper).

Hammer was, in the 1950s and 1960s, one of the best names in Horror movies. Over the years, although it never really went away, they stopped making movies and faded from memory a little bit. Over the last few years, they have tried for a revival – and they`ve made some very good films like the remake of Let the Right One In, Let Me In, and the Daniel Radcliffe starring The Woman in Black. They want to make classical horror movies – more interested in atmosphere and suspense, than blood and guts. These movies are tricky to pull off however – because there is a fine line between building atmosphere and just being dull. Their latest movie, The Quiet Ones, is on the wrong side of that line.

The film takes place in the 1970s, where Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) who wants to prove that the supernatural is nothing but mental illness. He hires Brian (Sam Claflin) to be his cameraman to film the experiments he is currently doing on Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) – a girl who speaks to Evey, a strange creature that only she can see, that does strange things. Along with Coupland's two assistants (Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne) they settle into a big, old house in the country, to try and cure Jane. The experiments are inhuman – but at first, only Brian seems bothered by them. But as the experiments prove ineffective – in fact, the more they do, the worse things get, and even Coupland`s assistants start to doubt him. But Coupland will not be dissuaded, and ramps up his experiments, making things worse. And, strangely, all the men start to fall in love with Jane.

Generally, I prefer my horror movies short on gore, and more on atmosphere and suspense. I have liked all of Ti West`s recent films for example – like The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, which like The Quiet Ones takes place in the kind of old buildings that exist to provide the setting of horror movies. Those films go in different directions from The Quiet Ones (and each other) but for the most part, they are about building suspense, and not using cheap scare tactics on the audience. The Woman in Black, the last film by Hammer, was similarly effective.

The problem with The Quiet Ones is that I wasn’t scared by it; I didn’t get the mounting suspense of the situation. Instead, I was just bored. Not much happens in The Quiet Ones – and nothing we do not expect. They don’t make movies about Professors who want to prove the supernatural doesn’t exist who successfully prove their hypothesis. They do make movies about mad doctors, who are obsessively driven beyond the point of reason, to do what they are obsessed with. That is what The Quiet Ones is – but it takes so long to get anywhere approaching interest, that I simply stopped caring.
The Quiet Ones has all the ingredients of being a fine horror film – but it never comes off. The setting is perfect, the outline of the story would work, and in Jared Harris, they have a fine actor to play an insane doctor. But the ingredients never come together. It takes more than a dark old house to create atmosphere. But that`s all The Quiet Ones has.