Hammer Films have for the most part, done a good job with choosing which films to make since returning in 2007 to give horror fans some genuinely good entertainment. Sure, for every LET ME IN, there’s been entries like THE RESIDENT, but for the most part, Hammer has done a great job at returning as one of the best genre companies to be making original horror films today. John Pogue’s THE QUIET ONES adds another winner to the Hammer legacy, giving genre fans one hell of a possession film, and a fresh take on a somewhat stagnant sub-genre.
Following a group of students and their fearless teacher (Jared Harris, TV’s Mad Men, I SHOT ANDY WARHOL) as they document their attempt at finding a way to create a poltergeist through experimenting on a tormented young woman named Jane (Bates Motel‘s Olivia Cooke in one hell of a role), and the terrifying results of said experimenting. It’s an interesting plot, made even better by quite a few standout performances by pretty much everybody involved, especially Cooke and the film’s lead, Sam Claflin (THE HUNGER GAMES) as Brian McNeil, the lone student who actually cares about Jane and ridding her of the spirit inside of her. The interesting angle of the film is how it goes from a regular film narrative format, to footage being shot by Brian, as a way of documenting the results. It’s not a found footage movie, as the film’s events happen in real time for the most part, but the filming scenes add an extra layer of tension to the plot. With most of the four-student crew following every single thing Harris’s Coupland character says and does, McNeil slowly begins to see that maybe Coupland’s intentions are less than noble and develops feelings for Jane, wanting to make sure she’s taken care of.
Like most films dealing with one’s attempts at playing god, the more that Coupland digs at Jane, subjecting her to a barrage of tests and experiments, things begin to manifest in some pretty damned scary ways, with the film’s knack for creating tension being more and more realized as it goes on. It’s always great to see how obsessed human beings are with being control of those around them, and THE QUIET ONES really addresses that with precision. Sure, there are a few jumpscares, but for the most part, the film’s strength comes from the performances of Cooke, Claflin and Harris, all three doing great jobs at breathing life into their characters. A lot of possession films focus too much on special effects and back-twisting and not enough on character development, but THE QUIET ONES succeeds at not only the scares, but on giving its audience likable and well written people to follow, and as Coupland becomes more and more obsessed with the experiments on Jane, you actually FEEL for Jane and Brian, as it’s obvious that in a different situation, they would be perfect for each other, but with their current predicament, only bad will come. With a performance as well done as Cooke’s is, it’s hard NOT to sympathize with her, as she gives a very good performance as a girl who doesn’t know how to deal with not only the spirit inside of her, but with basically being a lab rat to a man intent on playing god.
A lot of films taking place in other eras tend to seem more like caricatures of those eras, but THE QUIET ONES does for the 1970’s what Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL did for the 1980’s: give an authentic feeling, making your forget that the film WASN’T from that era. It feels like a film from the ’70s, and it works to its advantage, giving a really entertaining vibe, feeling like something that would make for a good double feature with THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, as opposed to something more recent film like THE POSSESSION.
Though Hammer has always made fun and entertaining films, their recent focus on providing genuinely creepy and excellent genre films is refreshing, as films like LET ME IN, THE WOMAN IN BLACK and now THE QUIET ONES really shows how dedicated they are with bringing quality horror to the masses, and THE QUIET ONES is just that: a solid, quality horror film that offers some refreshingly unique takes on a subgenre that tends to be somewhat of a cliche’ these days.