BY SARAH MILES
From the ’50s to the ’70s, Hammer Studios was the leading name in British horror. It faded away from the public eye, but has come back in recent years, with its most notable film being The Woman in Black. Now we have The Quiet Ones, based on the same real life experiment as 2012’s disappointing The Apparition, where a group attempted to create a real ghost from their collective imagination. It’s certainly an interesting concept, with the potential to explore belief and its relation to fear. Unfortunately, The Quiet Ones never quite manages to climb to this potential.
Unconventional Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) enlists the help of cameraman Brian (Sam Cleflin) to record his team’s latest experiment: manifesting the negative energy of subject Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) as a poltergeist in order to convince her that the entity plaguing her is of her own creation and can therefore be gotten rid of. From here, the team, including students Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) and Krissi (Erin Richards, who looks like she’s walked straight out of a classic Hammer ’70s film), try to get to the root of Jane’s troubles while Brian films everything. The filmed sequences mixed with the more conventionally shot portions of the film are good, but are also a problem in that they signpost to the audience that something scary is about to happen. Although by “scary” I mean “loud,” because unfortunately the majority of scares here are of the sudden loud noise variety. There is a real lack of atmosphere compared to The Woman in Black and the end result is a bit cheap in the horror department.
This said, there are things to like about The Quiet Ones. The best performance in the film by far is Cooke as the troubled Jane. She goes from innocent victim to deranged mental patient to something completely other and you’re not quite sure which one you’re going to get from scene to scene, and all without the usual acts of extreme contortion we’ve seen from possession victims recently. The scenes where she’s interacting with a creepy doll were, in particular, the most effective of the film for me. There are also a lot of little moments which hint at things which could have really helped the lacking atmosphere, but were never fully explored.
Once the film gets into its last act, anything even resembling subtlety is thrown out the window as everything flies around and we get the ludicrous explanation. In the end, nothing really feels resolved and whilst the very last scene has another one of those nice little touches, much preferable to one final jump scare, which wasn’t something I’m going to be losing sleep over.
Overall, the film is watchable with a good cast, but an unsatisfying execution of an interesting premise and an abundance of loud jump scares just made me feel like The Quiet Ones should have taken a cue from its name and gone for a more subtle, quieter approach.
Sarah lives in London, UK where she watches films, reads, writes, rollerskates, and waits for her mutant powers to kick-in.