When this came out to little or no fanfare and quite horrible reviews, I was disappointed. Thankfully fellow blogger Seven Doors of Death wrote a nice review of it after having watched it on Netflix, and so I decided to give it a go. Like any good possession flick, this film revolves around the made up events surrounding a true story. It also for some reason takes place in an alternate version of 1975 in which hair-metal band Quiet Riot exists. As far as time paradoxes go, I’m ok with this one.
Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke, Bates Motel) is a young woman who believes herself to be possessed by an evil spirit named Evey. Professor Coulson (Jared Harris, Mad Men), feeling the young woman to be psychologically ill sets out to prove all manifestations of demonic possession are negative energy controlled through the force of ESP. He keeps Jane locked away her room in an old mansion while his two students Krissi (Erin Richards, Gotham) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne, Vampire Academy) study her, and Brian (Sam Clafin, The Hunger Games) is brought along as cameraman to document the proceedings. There is a lot of sexual tension between the group as Krissi likes to flirt and tease; if this film were actually made in the time period it takes place, Susan George would be playing this part. Poor Brian is trying to keep his head together with the proceedings but it’s all a bit much as they begin to play loud music all day long to keep Jane from sleeping in order to agitate her to have her powers manifest. This all goes about as well as you’d expect, and to add fuel to the fire Jane starts to seduce and play mind games with Brian. The story toys around with the idea that maybe Evey isn’t real and a part of Jane’s imagination; but this is a horror film so you know exactly how that’s going to play out.
The Quiet Ones spends its run time very much as a character piece and the lynch-pin to it all is Jared Harris knocking it out of the park as the chain-smoking Professor Coulson. After looking over his filmography I was surprised at just how much I’d seen the guy in over the years, and if Hammer utilizes him correctly, he could be this generations Peter Cushing. He grounds the proceedings and keeps the group together as they wish to stop the experiment several times. It’s his constant prodding and commanding presence that drives the action and if it were a lesser actor the film would fall apart.
Olivia Cooke as Jane is another strength to the film. At first I thought she was playing the role uneven; going from childish seductress to helpless waif — but she’s very good at all facets the role calls for and is also portraying a character who we are supposed pretend to believe is schizophrenic, so the turns make sense in relation to the character. She’s also a cute, so guys who like creepy girls have a new face to add to their pantheon.
Overall, it’s a worthy entry into the Hammer catalog. If you’re a long-time fan of the studio, you’ll like this film. The market for the possession flick is sadly over-saturated at this point and I feel it’s a contributing factor why this film under-preformed. I can’t say it’s particularly scary for it’s horror elements, but the tension between the characters and taking it’s time to build to a crescendo is masterful. Director James Pogue shows some serious chops for this being his second film (his first being Quarantine 2), and also being known as the guy who wrote Ghost Ship.