THE QUIET ONES
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 19, 2014
If I were to say that “The Quiet Ones” was creepy, since it is a horror film and you would hope for the best, you may assume it is a startling and hair-raising sort of creepy. The truth is, however, that the legendary Hammer Films Productions release is a different type of creepy. As with most horror films these days, “The Quiet Ones” is inspired by a true story, set in London in the ‘70s, which sees college professor Coupland (Jared Harris) and his student assistants, Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) who call themselves by the title of the film, setting out to prove that their subject, Jane (Olivia Cooke) has a mental illness even though it seems like she is possessed by a demon. The audience and their skepticism are placed in the character of Brian (Sam Claflin of “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) who joins the experiment following the group’s funding being cut from the university. Settling in a giant old house to continue their practices, including seances and intense conversations with Jane, Brian takes on the role of camera and sound engineer, chronicling their activities with the young, tormented woman to whom he eventually wants to save.
Jared Harris, of “Mad Men” and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” fame, steps into the role that provides the creepiness I described. As the professor heading this unorthodox medical examination, Coupland is so sure that Jane is suffering from a mental illness, that he closes off his mind to any other possibilities. In the process, he forms an almost romantic connection to Jane, which is at the heart of how creepy this film is, with several scenes involving Coupland cradling Jane, despite her captivity and frail stature. Coupland almost seems to be taking advantage of her, which causes a negative unease in the viewer. Olivia Cooke has begun to make her home in the strange worlds she possesses, stepping off with the dark, killer world of “Bates Motel” and continuing as lead in the upcoming horror film “Ouija”. Like Jane, she brings an innocence to the role that is much needed, but again, makes the relationship with Coupland even more unsettling. Offering the film’s most unsettling moments, Cooke easily makes this film whatever success it may be, with the supporting characters remaining only conduits for which to be frightened.
With a period piece setting and a breakthrough actress like Olivia Cooke, one would imagine that the horror aficionados Hammer Films could have knocked this film out of the park, following in the footsteps of their recent period horror film, “The Woman In Black”. Instead, with a PG-13 rating stifling the content from being shocking and racy, and with a creepy demeanor which is more unmarked white van creepy rather than chilling to the spine creepy, “The Quiet Ones” lands somewhere in the middle of the horror spectrum, not quite B-horror but nowhere near the recent successes of “Sinister” and “The Conjuring.”
April 25, 2014
Tom de Ville
(for intense sequences of violence and terror, sexual content, thematic material, language, and smoking throughout)
Steven Chester Prince