The Quiet Ones Review
A horror movie sans horror.
While I am an aficionado of all things zombie and sci fi, horror is not a category I can comfortably call myself an expert in (I see zombie movies and horror movies as entirely different categories BTW. I’d be happy to discuss the difference with anyone who actually cares). Friday the 13 and Halloween never actually did much for me. I like stories where the protagonists have a chance to fight back, not be hung on a meat hook by an immortal force of nature. (Halloween image courtesy of the Horror Movie T shirt category)
(Incidentally, meat hooks and things hanging from them is something I am way too familiar with. My father was a meat cutter and I spent an unhealthy chunk of my childhood surrounded by dead animals and insanely sharp knives. Good thing I’m so well adjusted today. You know, quiet fellow. Keep to myself for the most part).
That being said I am not illiterate in this area. I have seen most of the classic horror films and understand what works or doesn’t work for them. More importantly I understand what works and doesn’t work for film in general, and unfortunately there is less that works than doesn’t work here.
I’m not happy to say that as I am a fan of Hammer films. They made a name for themselves in the B movie horror film arena with such classics as the Vampire Lovers, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, The Devil Rides Out, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, The Plague of Zombies, Vampire Circus, Hands of the Ripper, and the Camp on Blood Island. Most of these are weirdly amazing and super fun to watch with some friends and some beers on a Saturday afternoon. More recently they have tried to break into bigger budget, bigger name films with the Woman in Black and Let Me In with mixed results.
I won’t say this film was bad. Just that there was an absence of good. The film focused on building suspense to a denouement that really wasn’t a whole lot more exciting than the rest of the film. The “horror” was mainly derived from found footage style surprises, like “wouldn’t it be surprising if we were watching a possessed woman on 8mm film and all of a sudden the nearby radiator blew up with a loud bang?”. Off camera bumps, knocks, and things happening out of the shot or suddenly flying across the screen in a blur that ends up showing you nothing is not the zenith of horror making in my opinion. The net result of this constant build up to next to nothing was 98 minutes that dragged for 92 of them, with lots of time spent watching the creepy professor smoke and bitch his students out.
I also have an issue with the whole “found footage” aspect of this film in that if you are going to commit commit. You can’t go parachuting and hang from the planes landing gear for an hour and a half. The camera shifted back and forth from what was being “shot” by Brian, the camera guy, and a regular film camera. Very little attempt was made to make the shot footage look like it was one on a single camera in 1974 so the shift back and forth really did nothing for the film. They should have either gone all found footage or just blown the whole thing off. Also the sound was flawless in spite of the fact that there was no sound guy. SPOILER ALERT Given that all the found footage was reportedly destroyed by the end of the film it made this aspect even more annoying.
A lot has been said about this film being taken from a true story but if so perhaps there is a reason most movies are written from fiction. The scientist was kind of either comically evil or laughable stupid. The rest of the cast was Shaggy and a slutty Wilma from Scooby Doo, a straight man, and the possessed girl herself. As a whole they seemed like complete idiots in that they didn’t all bug out the first time random evil crap started happening around them. No real reason was given for anyone other than the professor and the possessed girl to hang around, and characters with no sense of self preservation make for incredibly lame protagonists.
Of course regular readers should remember that I hate the ’70s with a burning passion so that definitely colored some of my perception. I think I was fair in my assessment of the film regardless of that. For the record given a choice between traveling back on time to the 70’s or the Great Plague I would have to give serious consideration to London in 1665. At least they didn’t wear bellbottom pants suits.
The story. It starts off with Professor Joseph Coupland of Oxford (Jared Harris-Natural Born Killers, Lincoln, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. By the way, the “real” story they took this from happened in Toronto. I guess the film need the most prestigious university ever to make it work. It makes more sense to me that weirdness like this would come from the Great White North. Hail to our Canadian nerd brethren! You guys rock!) hiring a camera guy named Brian (Sam Claflin-Snow White and the Huntsmen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) to document a study of a girl he believes to be manifesting ghosts and apparitions with her mind using “dark energy” (? Oil? The theoretical glue of the universe? A generator powered by burning babies? What is dark energy?). His is assisted by tech geek Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne-Vampire Academy, Stealaway) and super blond and slutty ill defined scientist of some kind Krissi (Erin Richards-Open Grave, Breaking In, Being Human).
He introduces him to the subject Jane (Olivia Cooke-Bates Motel, the Signal, Ouija), who looks exactly like she is possessed by an evil spirit that seriously wants to kill everyone. They are recording her with some kind of electronic devices while forcing her to stay awake with the help of Cum on Feel the Noize by Slade. She is sort of a prisoner with no privacy and sort of a volunteer. Joseph’s plan is to force her evil, dark energy filled side out and some how remove it (he is truly short on explanations on how he intends to do anything other than torture the girl and get his grad students killed. At one point he seriously said something about harnessing the dark energy and I swear I thought he was going to add a maniacal laugh and the words “then take over the world!” but that might have made the film interesting). He also thinks that if he can cure Jane he can cure everyone in the world with mental problems (what, and put my poor therapist out of work?).
They lose their funding from Oxford and have to move out to some super creepy house to avoid all the noise complaints. At that point the film turns into about 75 minutes of bad X-Files episodes. You know, the ones where every few minutes you think you are about to see something super cool and interesting but it turns out to be a damned cat? Interesting stuff almost happens a lot, and on the rare occasion something happens it is always off screen. There are some dopey twists and betrayals. I won’t spoil the ending but I was more glad the film was over than anything else.
I don’t know. Both of the girls were super hot, and you almost see them naked in a very PG-13 way. One star. I will give credit for an original setting. You don’t see a lot of horror movies set in England. Usually they are outside of some bumbling Bible belt cow town. One star. I do appreciate stories derived from reality. One star. Given an original idea and their obvious attempt to move from the straight-to-DvD world I will award Hammer Films one more star as an A for effort. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes:
Nothing in this film is remotely new or interesting. Recycled from a ton of other films. One black hole. Pacing sluggish as hell. I’ve seen raw security camera footage of nothing happening that seemed better paced. 98 minutes that felt like 198. One black hole. The whole “found footage, not found footage” thing was annoying. Make up your mind. One black hole. Everything that might have been interesting happened off camera. Honestly I think they did it to keep their PG-13 rating. One black hole. A distinct lack of motivation, as in why the hell didn’t any of these people decide being far away from this weird ass girl was more in line with their interest in breathing? I’ll buy people sticking around a dangerous situation as long as you give me some form of excuse as to why. One black hole. At the end of the film I really didn’t know what point was being made. Was she possessed or not? Did she manifest everything with her mind? Was the professor right? One black hole. Total: five black holes.
So a total of one black hole. For me that’s at the low end of mediocre. The film is not irredeemable. Had they tightened up the pacing and given us some actual events prior to the last 10 minutes I might have been much more engaged. However, if you have seen any 10 horror films and the Blair Witch Project you have seen this film. I’d say see it when you are bored at home with nothing else to do. Date movie? Not really. Bathroom break? There’s a scene towards the end when Brian goes back to Oxford for more film or something but really spends a ton of time doing research at the library. Nothing he is doing is explained while he does it and he later reveals everything anyway.
Thanks for reading. Hitting a dearth of film lately. I saw a couple recently and never got around to writing them up so maybe I will do one of those tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Email me any off topic questions or suggestions and if you have a comment on this film or my review feel free to leave it here. Talk to you soon.
“the Infamous” Dave Inman