Come now, not every demonic possession thriller can claim to be “inspired by true events,” even though all of them do.
“The Quiet Ones” is a rather old-fashioned possession story concocted by those kings of horror camp, Britain’s Hammer Films, and released in the U.S. by Lionsgate. Perhaps as a nod to its origins, it is a period piece — set in 1974 — about an Oxford professor, his overly-dedicated disciples (“The Quiet Ones” of the title), and British hi-tech of the day, from “negative energy” detection gear to reel-to-reel tape recorders, hand-held cinema cameras and Triumph TR6 motorcars.
It’s a load of horrific hooey, having a script gone over by the “Paranormal Activity” guy — which means that much, but far from all we see, is of a “found footage” variety, the experimental treatment run by Dr. Joseph Coupland — Jared Harris, a dreadful Moriarty to Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes, a conspiring ad mogul in “Mad Men.”
Poor Jane (Olivia Cooke) is locked in a room for observation, urged to sit in on seances as the professor tries to see just what demon she has conjured up in her mind that he can uncover and purge.
“You cure one patient, you cure all mankind” of mental illness, he reasons. There’s probably a Nobel Prize in this, his students Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) figure.
Working class Brian (Sam Caflin) is just an audio visual specialist, horrified by the evidence of the supernatural he witnesses (which Dr. Coupland refuses to see as such), and mortified by what the Dr. puts Jane through.
The scares here are of the sudden jolt variety –telekinesis, pyrokinesis — always accompanied by explosively loud shrieks slams and other noises. Harris suggests none of the over-the-top touches Hammer became famous for, though putting Cooke into a tub and dressing Richards in every manner of short shorts is evidence of the Hammer touch. Those Brits loved a little cheesecake with their horror. There’s plenty of blood, but little of that Hammer brio.
The dialogue is banal — “Joseph, I’m scared.”
“That means you’re ALIVE.”
And “I hope you don’t scare, easily.”
If nothing else, any horror movie coming out has the fact that trailers to the next six months of horror pictures will be attached to the previews going or it. So even if the movie you watch is a stiff, a fan can cling to the hope that one of those advertised pictures will be better than this one.
That’s pretty much what you go through with “The Quiet Ones,” sit through the movie just to see the stuff that may be better, even if too many of those movies, like this one, will claim to be “inspired by true events.”
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, sexual content, thematic material, language, and smoking throughout
Cast: Jared Harris, Sam Caflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne
Credits: Directed by John Pogue, written by Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman, John Pogue and based on a script by Tony de Ville. A Hammer Films/Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:37