film review – The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones, based on so-called actual events of course, is a low-budget horror flick about a university professor and a team of students who are conducting a series of experiments on a young woman in the ’70s to prove that what we call “ghosts” are actually manifestations of negative energy, resulting from mental illness. It’s a neat little variation on the theories horror films like these usually present us with, but that’s about all the praise I can give the script; the rest of it pieces together horror clichés and is about flat characters making dumb and idiotic decisions until they’re no longer able to do so.

It’s apparent from the word go that The Quiet Ones just isn’t a very good movie. Jared Harris immediately hams it up as the professor, a mad scientist character who somehow managed to rally a few students for his cause, something that seems highly unlikely given his behavior and the fact that he keeps a girl locked up in a mansion room. Furthermore his acting style just doesn’t mix well with what the other actors are doing: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘s Sam Claflin plays one of the professor’s assistants and his acting is actually very realistic and subdued, unlike what Harris is doing. Claflin’s character is also the only one slightly distraught by the experiments they are performing and by some of their findings, which, by contrast, makes the other characters appear even less sympathetic and plausible. Unfortunately his Brian is also quite bland and more of a type: the sensitive guy who falls for the test subject, a cheap instrument to instigate conflict. Because of all the horror tropes and the cookie-cutter nature of the plot and characters the movie becomes entirely predictable early on, in addition to it dragging its heels: despite its unoriginality it really takes its time to further a story that’s all too familiar, resulting in dull and repetitive moments, in a film that’s overlong.

It has to be said though that the test subject herself is portrayed quite well, even though she looks like a The Addams Family‘s Wednesday knock-off. Olivia Cooke even goes so far as to channel Christina Ricci’s version of that character, but despite the obvious homage (hopefully that’s what it is) she does make her character Jane very enigmatic and magnetic. Because the whole plot basically revolves around her, much of the film’s moments of shock or tension derive from Cooke’s acting and she does sell some of the movie’s somewhat disturbing moments. Those are few and far between however: The Quiet Ones just isn’t a particularly scary film, because it overly relies on jump scares that are literally thrown in every three minutes, by means of a loud sound or an unexpected jump cut. It’s the laziest way to generate a physical response from your audience, and horror movies like this one should realize that it doesn’t scare the audience; it annoys them. Especially when the technique is overused and the film additionally is entirely devoid of a strong atmosphere, lacks a sense of dread and foreboding, as is the case with The Quiet Ones.

The Quiet Ones is a sub-par horror film that’s entirely unoriginal, dull and, most importantly, not scary at all. It is annoying though; Jump Scare Galore would have been a more fitting title. 3/10

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