25 April 2014 | drownnnsoda
Brits have at the staples of 21st century American horror
"The Quiet Ones" focuses on a three students at the University of Oxford who join a research group led by Dr. Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris). The group is working to document parapsychological phenomenon in a young woman whom they believe has created and manifests a presence which she calls Evie. Isolated in the back country outside of Oxford, the group begins to unravel and secrets come to light.
I first off have to say that the primary reason I saw this film was because the poster was breathtaking— Gothic, beautiful, and unconventional. I wasn't even that impressed with the trailer, but the poster had some promise for me. Now, after seeing the film, I have mixed feelings.
It starts off well enough, and maintains a sense of ambiguity in its early stages, keeping the audience at arm's length; this is wonderful during the first act, but the problem is that it never seems to break free of this, even as the plot unravels and the truth comes out in the end— there is little surprise in the film because it never lets its audience in close enough to be affected by it. Clunky pacing and editing is largely the culprit here, which seems to prevent the film from ever really gaining steam. Instead, we are presented with a series of repetitious happenings that fail to build on one another, and the film edges on becoming an unmemorable blur as a consequence. The script feasts heavily on the staples of 21st century American horror films to its own detriment— we have possessed girls in white dresses, Satanic symbols, demons, religious cults, blah, blah, blah. You know the story.
That said, the film does have some strengths. The script is purportedly based on an actual experiment done in Toronto in the 1970s, so the film does have that working in its favor, no matter how ludicrous it is to take the events depicted at face value— the fact that there is at least a shred of truth to this is compelling in a world where every horror film released makes false claims of being based on reality. It is also remarkably well photographed; the interplay between the standard camera and the 8mm footage being filmed by the characters lends the picture a unique mood and sense of voyeurism, and the depictions of the experiments at times recall John Hough's British classic, "The Legend of Hell House." The performances in the film are also solid, with Jared Harris reeling everything in.
I think the overall problem I had with this film was, despite the fact that it roots itself in history as a period piece, the majority of it is just frankly underwhelming because it too often takes the route of 90% of the horror films we see released here in America every month. The premise is intriguing, but the execution leaves us with a relatively well-made film whose main problem is that is just isn't that darned compelling. 6/10.