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The Quiet Ones (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/19/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/18/2014
Here's today's question: When the advertising for a movie features the announcement "Inspired by Actual Events", does that make the movie more appealing for you? Why do they want us to know this? Is it a legal thing in the event that someone in the audience says, "Hey! That sort of happened to me!" Does it matter that the story had anything to do with something which occurred in real life? Also, please note that "Inspired by Actual Events" is a much more vague term than something like "Based on a True Story". The former gives the writers much more leeway to play with the facts, or to create an entirely new story out of a tiny seed of truth. We get a great example of this in The Quiet Ones.
The Quiet Ones opens at Oxford University in 1974. Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) is assembling a team for an experiment which cross psychology with the paranormal. He's convinced that he can take a young patient named Jane (Olivia Cooke) and turn all of her psychological symptoms, which include violent outbursts and disturbing dreams, and make them something physical which can then be discarded. He recruits students Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) and Krissi (Erin Richards) to assist him and he persuades Audio-Video student Brian (Sam Claflin) to document the experiment. The team takes up residence on campus and begins the study, which often blurs ethical lines. When the University pulls their funding, Couplan moves the group to an isolated house to continue. There, the experiments escalate and it becomes clear that Coupland's theories may be correct, and he may have tapped into something which no one can control.
The Quiet Ones is the latest entry from the revived British horror house Hammer Films, who previously brought us the superiorThe Woman in Black and the disappointing Let Me In, as well as The Resident and Wake Wood. Here, they seem to be trying to combine their older films with a more modern approach. (It's interesting that the movie is set in 1974, as this was about the time that the old Hammer was gasping for its last breath.) The period setting aside, Professor Coupland's lecture hall looks like something from the 19th Century and the house to where the team retreats is decidedly aged. This is combined with the use of rock music for sleep deprivation and a quasi-"Found Footage" approach, as we some of the action through Brian's camera.
If this sounds like a film which has a difficult time finding an identity, then you are right on the money. Director John Pogue wants The Quiet Ones to be the best of both worlds. He attempts to create an air of supernatural anticipation, something akin to The Exorcist, during the experiment sequences, while also mixing in a great deal of drama. Pogue does prove adept at using loud noises (ironic, given the film's title) to create jump scares, and these abound in the film, and a few are quite effective. But, other than that, The Quiet Ones is dreadfully dull. There is a lot of talk about Jane's condition and several scenes showing Krissi attempting to seduce everyone, but there simply isn't enough action here. There are flourishes of activity during the experiment scenes, but they are end as quickly as they began. The lack of anything truly interesting happening is also hurt by the muddled script. It feels as if there is a lot of information missing from the first act as the experiment suddenly begins without giving us much background information and Coupland's goals are very vague. (The film was shot in 2012 and not released until 2014, so perhaps it went through various edits which got rid of some crucial information.) The final act contains two twists concerning Jane's past and Coupland's past, but they aren't revelatory enough to save the movie.
Getting back to the "Actual Events" angle, the idea for The Quiet Ones supposedly sprang from an experiment form the early 70s in which a group of scientists attempted to create a ghost in a lab. (The Apparition was also based on this case, but it actually used the idea in the movie.) The Quiet Ones doesn't really come close to this story and none of the characters match those from the real experiment. I would actually like to see a movie based on that experiment, as it sounds very interesting. As it stands, this movie makes great use of surround sound, which is good, as it's the only thing which will keep you awake.
The Quiet Ones will make some people realize that Quiet Riot had a hit with a cover song on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 18 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source materials or notable grain, save for the scenes shown through Brian's camera. The movie has a nearly mono-chromatic look at times, but the image is never overly dark. The flashes of color, such as the grass and Krissi's clothes, look good. The image shows a pleasing amount of depth and the level of detail is notable. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As noted above, the sound is important here and the subwoofer effects really drive home those jump scares. The surround sound action during the experiment scenes is very detailed and we can easily pick out individual sounds. The stereo effects show good separation and highlight sounds coming from off-screen.
The Quiet Ones Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director/Co-Writer John Pogue and Producer Tobin Armbrust. "Welcome to the Experiment: Making The Quiet Ones" (35 minutes) makes a detailed examination with the film's production. The piece contains comments from several members of the production team, including the director, writer, and producers. It opens with a discussion of the script and then moves into casting and includes comments from the actors. They then talk about how the handheld film footage was incorporated into the movie, locations, production design, sound design, and visual effects. "An Ominous Opening" (8 minutes) contains comments from Aaron Becker, one of the artists who created the film's opening title sequence. He shows us step-by-step how the images were created. The Disc contains seven DELETED SCENES which runs about 12 minutes. Most of these are simply dialogue and character development sequences which probably would have slowed the movie even more. The final extra is a 3-minute reel of OUTTAKES.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long