Since we’re fast approaching Halloween, I figured it was time I reviewed a horror film. I chose The Quiet Ones, a British supernatural horror movie directed by John Pogue. The film stars Jared Harris as Joseph Coupland, a university professor from Oxford who conducts an experiment to try and prove that demonic possession isn’t real and can in fact be cured as if it were any other affliction. He recruits a student named Brian (played by Sam Clafin, Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as a cameraman to document the process and along with his two assistants, the four retreat to a secluded house in the country where they can perform the experiment uninterrupted. The subject is a girl named Jane Harper who was abandoned as a child and has long been passed from home to home. She continues to go along with the experiment believing Professor Coupland can cure her. However, it becomes clear that the forces involved in Jane’s life are far more complex and evil than the Professor and his students imagined. Still, in an attempt to prove his hypothesis, Coupland goes to extreme and inhuman lengths to get results.
The film received largely negative reviews and for the most part felt repetitive and unoriginal. That being said, I still found it entertaining for several reasons. For one, there are many “stomach clenching” moments which leave you waiting anxiously for something horrific to happen. This to me is the mark of a truly great horror film. It’s one of the things that made The Blair Witch Project so successful. Sometimes, the thought of something frightening happening is more horrifying than something actually happening and in this way the movie uses your own mind against you. In addition, the film is “loosely based on true events” in that it mimics the Philip Experiment in which a group of researchers attempted to prove that ghosts and possession are merely manifestations of our own subconscious. I found this very intriguing and the The Quiet Ones adapts this story lightly enough to allow for elaboration while still maintaining the core concept.
All in all, the film was creepy and worth the 92 minute run time just like most horror movies. Horror is one of those genres where you almost always go in to it knowing that from a film standpoint it will probably be less than spectacular. But that isn’t the point. With the exception of the few horror films which transcend the genre and become classics, most scary movies are intended to do just that, scare you. This film did that on some level and so I would recommend it for that reason. But don’t expect to be wowed, just expect to be startled.