The Quiet Ones
Director: John Pogue
Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke
98 mins; Class 15; KRS

You don’t have to be an aficionado of the horror genre to recognise the name Hammer Films. From as far back as the 1930s, the British outfit Hammer Films has been synonymous with the genre, producing myriad chilling classics over the decades.

After a period of relative quiet, the brand was revived in 2008 and has since then produced the critically and commercially acclaimed vampire story Let Me In, the English-language remake to Swedish phenomenon Let the Right One In; and The Woman In Black, the big screen adaptation of the West End smash hit play of the same name.

Hammer’s latest opus is inspired by true events recorded in the 1970s, at a time when the study of the supernatural was an accepted field of academic study. Parapsychology professor Coupland (Jared Harris) and a team of his most dedicated students conduct unauthorised and dangerous experiments on Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke), a very disturbed girl. Jane is a foster child who has moved incessantly from home to home because of the strange psychic events that follow her.

Secluded in a sprawling estate just outside London, Coupland and his team attempt to discover the cause of her disturbances, unaware of the danger they threaten to unleash.

The Quiet Ones is inspired by real events where scientists attempted to create a supernatural being from their own personal energy, to prove how poltergeists come into being.

As a premise it is frightening, yet the writers, possibly thinking this is not enough, pad the story with tales of cults and devil worship which unravel the story somewhat, while it often falls back into a comfort zone of strange noises, rattling doors, tentative approaches to locked doors and other clichés of the genre.

The sexual relationships between the protagonists detract from the main plotline. That said, for the most part the film sustains a healthy dose of suspense and tension and we do get to jump out of our seat a few times.

The strong cast helps no end, Harris leading an ensemble who commit wholeheartedly to their roles. Harris himself once more proves his credentials as a solid character actor both on the big screen and small, as the committed, obsessive and a tad sinister professor.

Olivia Cooke’s Jane is more than a lab rat; the actress adding poignancy to the role and upping the fright factor considerably, thanks to her interaction with a creepy a doll named Evey, adding to the discomfiting atmosphere.

Just enough scares to keep the interest from flagging

Up-and-comer Sam Claflin, as the student assigned to film proceedings, works well as a proxy for the audience; he is the outsider observing things he does not understand while offering a welcome fresh take on the ubi-quitous found-footage gimmick.

Also to its credit, it avoids too much scientific jargon, effectively creating exposition via its straightforward dialogue. Moreover, the atmosphere is heightened with the superb production and costume design expertly evoking the period, and a soundtrack of recognisable 1970s standards, not only underscoring the proceedings but forming an integral part of the story, part of Coupland’s experiment, including keeping poor Jane awake for days on end by blasting said music into her locked room.

With its intelligent approach to its story, a solid cast, and just enough scares to keep the interest from flagging, The Quiet Ones is a worthy if slightly flawed entry into the Hammer canon.

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