Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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.

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