Friday, August 22, 2014

Quiet Ones, The (2014)

Director: John Pogue

Notable Cast: Jared Harris, Olivia Cooke, Sam Claflin, Eric Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne

Possession films seem to be all the rage at this point, but just how far can one go with creative spins on a genre that seemingly comes off as the ‘same old, same old?’ I had some decent expectations out of The Quiet Ones, not because it’s another possession film, but because of the logo in front of the film: Hammer. While the old school horror company disappeared for a number of decades, their resurgence has produced some solid old school feeling horror flicks. Unfortunately, The Quiet Ones is easily the weakest film of their new slate.

Joseph (Harris) is using his theories of parapsychology to try and cure Jane Harper (Cooke.) He assembles a small team, including cameraman Brian (Claflin,) to document and help with the process, but what they will find in Jane Harper may not adhere to scientific explanation. What they find may end up killing them all.

"Don't mess with me, son. I played Sherlock's evil counterpart."
Hammer’s last film, the enigmatic The Woman in Black, was a blend of modern style and old school atmosphere that rocked the blend and hit one home. Even though I didn’t give that film a great review when I first saw it, since then I’ve grown to really appreciate what they accomplished with it. The Quiet Ones attempts to go 2 for 2 with that same concept as it attempts to blend modern techniques and old school storytelling. The results are simply more awkward than effective. Writer/director John Pogue (known mostly for writing some fun B-grade horror flicks like The Skulls and Ghost Ship, but also for directing and writing Quarantine 2) doesn’t get the blend right this time around. There are moments of great atmosphere and subtle character work to be found particularly surrounding a fun performance from Jared Harris, but the rest tends to feel downright cliché and often illogical. An entire sequence where Jane disappears has the entire cast stumbling around in the dark from the viewpoint of the camera that Brian is holding and it utterly feels like a waste of time. Seriously? That’s the best scares you can come up with?

That being said, the film also misses out on the key to make this work – the characters. The title refers to the group of people performing this experiment and while the film does an admirable job creating a roller coaster character for Jane that the audience consistently hooks into, it’s the main character of Brian and his cohorts that get the shaft. His two fellow college experimenters feel like broad stroke characters and their interactions often result in exposition rather than real moments of connection. It undermines a lot of the doubt and atmosphere that The Quiet Ones attempts to create and the film has to jump massive logistical moments, particularly in the third act, to get us to the next scary sequence…which often comes off as more cliché than not anyway. Instead of the formulaic progression that the film uses, they should have pushed even further towards the spiraling tension between the team.

As I mentioned, the scares tend to be fairly cliché in the end. If you’ve seen a few possession films, you’ve seem a majority of The Quiet Ones. Occasionally the film succeeds in throwing in a handful of solid jolts, but even those seem illogical at times. A random connection between the doll and Jane indicated with a knife has a nice moment in the latter half, but it left me wondering why it happened at all as it never seems to be cohesive with the rest of the film and the scares it was giving the audience.

This was my reaction to Furby.
The Quiet Ones isn’t a terrible film, in fact it’s a perfectly serviceable possession flick that does step over many of the shitty straight to home video flicks of the same genre in the last few years. It just also so happens to be a scattered script that lacks the characters to sell the idea, the scares to hook the audience, and the atmosphere to feel like a classic Hammer flick. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly expected more out of it particularly with the potential of its concept.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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