Continuing the Hammer Horror renaissance that started with the wonderfully gothic Woman In Black, The Quiet Ones maintains a period setting seemingly a perfect fit for the studios heyday of the ‘60s and ‘70s. But does The Quiet Ones send a chill down the spine or suck like Hammer’s iconic Dracula.
Based on The Phillip Experiment, The Quiet Ones tells the story of Brian (Sam Claflin) a shy camera operator who agrees to document the work of Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) as he tries to establish proof that paranormal activity is nothing more than a physical projection of a person’s emotional energy. The person in question is Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) who is manifesting a being called “Evey”. But when Coupland’s funding is pulled by Oxford University he and his other research assistants, flirty Krissi (Erin Richards) and foppish Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne), are forced to stay in a creepy old house in the country.
The Woman In Black was hugely atmospheric, a film that while never daring to push the envelope at least succeeded in achieving exactly what it set out to do; send a chill down your spine. The same cannot be said about The Quiet Ones.
The plot is tried and clichéd, even what seem to be telegraphed twists never materialise to at least make things a little more interesting. Director John Pogue certainly captures the period setting well and finds ways of injecting interesting character quirks into proceedings, but neither are properly utilised or relevant to the plot.
The film insists on cutting between a more conventional cinematic language and Brian’s “found footage” as he shoots the experiment. The result is jarring and often feels like a gimmick deployed for no other reason as to keep us in the dark of what is really happening. But more unforgivable than this is the film is never scary, it never unnerves or builds to anything other than a predictable attempt at a shock tactic. Indeed said scares are forced through the now tiresome method of deploying loud noises at a specific point. Sure, it makes you jump but you’re never genuinely scared, it’s like someone popping a balloon behind you, you’re going to jump only to turn and be angry with the person responsible.
Clever settings and potentially interesting character dynamics are wasted on The Quiet Ones which would have done well to heed its title’s more subtle approach.