Friday, April 25, 2014

THE QUIET ONES (2014) - Bumps and Thuds and Scary Shit on the Screen

I finally have had the good fortune to see a Hammer movie in the theater. This in and of itself is cause for celebration as it should be for any of you who venture out to see The Quiet Ones. It's getting some fairly good press, seeing some TV advert time and actually get a wider theatrical run than I ever thought possible. That's not to say that I would expect it to be bad or that I couldn't see the appeal in a Hammer film being released on a wide scale, but I think the timing is perfect. Hammer's revival has been one that I have followed as a fan of old Hammer and a champion of new horror: Wake Wood, Let Me In and most recently The Woman in Black (though not my favorite of their releases). Supernatural horror films are in. I am not tired of them, and I'm excited to report that The Quiet Ones has only furthered my enjoyment of this particular subgenre of horror. Before we go on, I'd like you to go see The Quiet Ones. Give it a good box office showing.

Synopsis from Hammer/Lionsgate:

Tucked away in an estate outside of London, Professor Coupland along with a team of university students conduct an “experiment” on Jane Harper, a young girl who harbors unspeakable secrets. What dark forces they uncover are more terrifying than any of them expected.


There's nothing better than a genre picture that lives up to its predecessors or the mommy and daddy features of yesteryear. I look at The Quiet Ones as a more modern take on movies like The Haunting and Legend of Hell House with elements of The Changling or Audrey Rose. The Haunting is one of the scariest damn movies you'll ever see. We're talking about the 1964 Robert Wise classic of course that continues to scare me every October when I get up the balls to watch it again. I try to get all my friends to enjoy it. I know they will.  The Legend of Hell House is a horse of a different color though equally enjoyable for it's madness, it exploits, it's spook show. It's instantly quotable and contains some performances and audio work that I hope everyone appreciates when Scream Factory puts it out this Summer of Fear. The Quiet Ones has little pieces of each of these films. This isn't another offshoot of The Haunting in Connecticut or The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Some great performances by actors who may seem somewhat unknown but who have resumes that suggest otherwise and have some serious potential in the horror genre and beyond.

Olivia Cookie will be in Bates Motel and the upcoming release The Signal (you'll see the trailer if you see The Quiet Ones). Her performance was very strong as the lead spooky lady. You'll see how that plays out, but she casts a wide net of emotions over you.

Jared Harris is going to be in the new Poltergeist but has already been in some genre a stellar volume of work, typically not in the spotlight but supporting superbly. He's a goddamn bastard in this movie. You're going to love to hate him, but I assure you'll still be skeptical and wondering if you should follow his lead.

Sam Claflin is a Hunger Games man or Catching Fire and Mocking Jay. I truly enjoy those movies, so I'm happy to see him again. His performance in The Quiet Ones is heartfelt, endearing... it's easy to feel both sympathy for him and identify with him as an outsider.

Erin Richards... my heart beats for you which is to say I am smitten. I believe I have a star crush on her... in my pants. More tub scenes please. Beyond that she plays this role very well. A good balance of hysteria matched with perfect logic and reason and just a hint of cult follower.

Rory Fleck-Byrne puts up a solid performance and plays the straight man, also with cult follower tendencies.

What do I love about this movie? It uses a found footage style of photography that also encompasses the POV shooting style but balances it with wide, more traditional shots and narrative. This isn't Paranormal Activity X. Do not be frightened when you see a camera on the screen knowing full well that you may be looking through it's sinister eye. Care was taken to preserve film grain at times which helps to set the mood though I think this period piece could be set now and work out just fine. Remember that it is based on true events... I hate seeing that at the beginning of a film or at least I've been trained to hate seeing it by lesser genre pictures.

The use of sound especially surround sound in the theater was terrifying and helped to pull off some well played misdirective based scares. I have to admit that overall this feature seemed to rely on jump scares often. Some appropriate. Some were perhaps gratuitous but seeing as I'm a sucker for these scares I have to say that they were all effective. The use of well focused lighting and darkly lit rooms combined with some chaotic swaying cameras helps to create disorientation though not in the "vomit bag" sense of the word. In short, The Quiet Ones is using some common shooting styles and story telling methods of the age along with cinematography that has become popular to abuse only using it to its advantage.

It's PG-13. Don't expect a whole lot of blood or gore, but there's enough to keep you from tearing apart the audience member next to you. There were one or two quick nudie shots (obviously this is a highbrow review). This will not keep you satisfied boobie horror fans. I assure you that you'll want to go home and turn on Lifeforce to get your libidos in check. Unlike many PG-13 features of our age, this one doesn't suffer for its rating. That's not to say I wouldn't like to see a more full bodied horror film, but you won't notice the rating unless you stare at your ticket once the movie starts... or maybe when you see a bathtub. There are a few computer generated effect scenes that detract from the movie. We have got to figure out how to create better CG fire effects or stop using them. For some reason no one's getting this right and it hurts good movies.

Director John Pogue is no stranger to horror. He wrote Ghost Ship. He directed Quarantine 2 which was a revelation after the original Quarantine REC remake cluster fuck. I hope we see him do more genre work. He pulls great performances from actors, creates an atmosphere in which you can actually be a little frightened and knows damn well how to use music and sound. They put together one sick soundtrack for this movie featuring T. Rex, Slade (and I thought Cum on Feel the Noize was a Quiet Riot song that one blew me away) and the Acorns. From a music perspective, The Quiet Ones should be considered this year's You're Next from a musical perspective

I was scared at times. At others I was moderately sleepy, but in that I became comfortable which allowed for some really great startle scares. It was also a long day so I had a moment or two where the scares caught me resting my eyes. I have redefined the image of bolt upright in my theater seat tonight.  I recommend The Quiet Ones to fans of supernatural horror, fans of the The Conjuring who want to continue to enjoy ghostie movies in the theater (though I want to stress that I use the word ghostie as an adjective and do not suggest what the antagonist truly is). While I fully admit that the story itself does not reinvent the genre, it plays in some well tread paths and spins its own world from the seeds of supernatural horror past. It's in theaters, so you have a great chance to take a date to see something that might get under your skin. I hope it does.

-Doc Terror

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