Film of the week reviewed: The Quiet Ones
11:45 10 April 2014
Science, shocks and scares in true chiller staring Norwich actor Sam Clapflin
Inspired by a real-life incident - valuable currency for a horror film - The Quiet Ones relives a troubling case of demonic possession that claimed the lives of a team of scientists.
It’s immaterial that John Pogue’s film is grounded in the contentious facts of the infamous Philip Experiment, which saw Canadian parapsychologists test their theory that the human mind is responsible for manifestations attributed to ghosts. All blood-lusting audiences will care about is the number of jump-out-of-your seats shocks and wince-inducing scares that the director and his two co-writers, Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman, have crammed into 98 minutes.
Disappointingly, you can count them on two fingers.
Admittedly, the film does boast one devilishly teasing scene of impending carnage involving a character unwittingly resting her head in the wrong place, where clumps of her hair can be torn from her scalp. Pogue intentionally allows the scene to drag on, heightening our discomfort until we can barely look at the screen.
For the most part, though, The Quiet Ones resorts to staples of the genre - creaking doors that open of their own accord, figures emerging suddenly from the darkness - which can be anticipated well in advance.
The screenplay transplants the malevolent mind games from Toronto to the dreaming spires of 1970s Oxford. Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) is convinced that there is a direct link between paranormal activity and human negative energy. He ignores university protocols and conducts a secret experiment on a troubled patient, Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke).
Cameraman Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin) is recruited to the team to provide the evidence.
The Quiet Ones is the latest offering from the Hammer Film stable, which sent shivers down collective spines with the 2012 chiller, The Woman In Black. Pogue’s film falls short of that journey into supernatural madness.
Harris teeters on the brink of hysteria throughout, leaving younger co-stars to curry our sympathy.
The script skimps on character development until a flood of outlandish exposition attempts to wrap everything up with a hellish final flourish.
*** (3 stars)
For reviews of this week’s other releases, including Calvary, The Raid 2 and The last Days on Earth, as well as the latest local listings, see the Event supplement in Thursday’s EDP and Evening News.