Netflix UK film review: The Quiet Ones
James Butlin | On 20, Aug 2014
Director: John Pogue
Cast: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke
Watch The Quiet Ones online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Sky Store / Rakuten TV / Amazon Instant Video
The latest from the newly re-vamped Hammer studio follows the story of a group of Oxford University students led by their professor (Jared Harris) conducting a controversial experiment on a young girl (played by newcomer Olivia Cooke) to try and make her a poltergeist.
The story is loosely based on the true story of The Philip Experiment in Toronto, Canada, in 1972. Harris’ character believes that paranormal activity is only created as an outward manifestation of a person’s subconscious thoughts; by using a collective sub-conscious, therefore, it would be possible to create a ghost through prolonged concentration and thought.
The premise itself makes for quite an interesting set-up and shooting on location in Oxford makes for a beautiful and historic backdrop but it only takes 20 minutes for their controversial experiment to have to up-sticks and go to an isolated haunted house. It’s clear that the outline for the new Hammer films is to keep them as traditional as possible, but where The Woman In Black succeeded with being almost a complete throwback, The Quiet Ones wants to be a ghost story as well as a scientists-creating-a-monster story. Ultimately, it doesn’t quite hit the notes on either scale.
Jared Harris holds the fort perfectly, toeing the line on the verge of being sinister and with a constant uncertainty over his actions. The young actors surrounding him all work well but without much to do other than being thrown around or reacting to bangs and screams, they’re just another selection of token horror victims.
A redeeming feature and one that brings about the true story feel is the combination of found footage and regular shooting within the film. While found footage as a whole often limits the direction a film can take, combining the two by having a character chronicling the experiment means there’s a varied mix of crackling 70s film and third-person shots to give the viewer a chance to see both in and around the experiments going on.
It’s an interesting horror film that is elevated above most by having a strong set-up and the always reliable Hammer badging, although after a while falls back into too many tired clichés and scares.
There’s an eclectic mix of extras to be had on the Blu-ray, the highlight being a 30 minute making-of that starts by going into the original story and what happened in the original experiments, followed by some interesting bits and pieces on how Hammer decided to pick this story and what the studio’s arms are. It tails off towards the end with some generalised information about production design and casting, but the earlier interviews are good to watch and give a bit of context to the story as a whole.
The rest of the extras are fairly droll, from an eight minute feature about the opening credits to the usual bunch of deleted scenes and – weirdest of all – the least funny gag reel you’ll ever see. You heard us right, a gag reel on a horror film that yields zero laughs in three whole minutes. Steer clear at all costs.
The Quiet Ones is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.