UK Release Date: 11th April 2014
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: John Pogue
Writer: John Pogue, Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman
Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne
Synopsis: A strange Oxford professor enlists a group of students and a young camera operator to help with and document his experiments with a young girl who seems to exhibit supernatural power.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the decline of quality and indeed box office money plaguing the found footage horror sub-genre. Despite this, 2014 has already seen two prominent found footage releases and now, in the shape of Hammer’s The Quiet Ones, a film desperate to use found footage tropes without being labelled an example of the genre. Either way, it’s a failure.
At Oxford University, Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) gives a lecture about the supernatural. Interested in his work, cameraman Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin) asks for more information and is invited to take part in an experiment. With the help of students Kristina (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne), the team try to coax supernatural activity out of a young test subject called Jane (Olivia Cooke).
Right from the start, it’s clear that there is the gem of a creepy idea lurking within The Quiet Ones. As the premise is established, there are one or two solid jump scares and the narrative builds to an interesting place. There’s even solid use of the found footage concept, as the footage shot by Brian mingles nicely with traditional film technique.
| "What if you could prove that the supernatural was merely a manifestation of what already exists in the mind?"
Unfortunately, as the first act gives way to the second there is then a bizarre shift to a generic “secluded house” setting and an over-reliance on the standard set of found footage horror tricks. By the time the truly bonkers climax begins to unfold, any sense of quality that The Quiet Ones ever had is long gone.
Jared Harris is solid with a sinister display as the professor whose desire for science takes him to extreme measures. Sam Claflin, so charismatic in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, does not have the opportunity to make any impression. His role is written in such an odd way that he is never able to inject any personality.
There is a shining star lurking within The Quiet Ones in the shape of Olivia Cooke as the supernaturally-charged youngster at the centre of the film’s experiments. But she is given few chances to shine by the frankly ridiculous script.
| "Families would keep her for a bit. Then things would happen."
Given that Hammer has managed to produce work as chilling as The Woman In Black since its revival, The Quiet Ones is an enormous disappointment. Here’s hoping that their next film manages to do something better.
Pop or Poop?
With few scares to speak of and largely unmemorable performances, The Quiet Ones is not going to take a place amongst the pantheon of Hammer horror classics.
The script is stupid, the third act loses all control and the final scene literally couldn’t make less sense. This is horror by numbers, and it’s rubbish.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.