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Quiet Ones, The (AF)


Stars: Sam Claflin, Jared Harris, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne

Director: John Pogue

In 1957, Terence Fisher directed the classic The Curse of Frankenstein, reviving the the moribund horror genre in colour, and established ‘B’ filmmakers Hammer Films as pre-eminent producers of such legendary shockers as Fisher’s Dracula, The Curse of the Werewolf and The Gorgon.

Inevitably Hammer’s time at the top eventually petered out with the rightful failure of their terrible remake of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes.

But, like the zombies from Plague of the Zombies, Hammer Horror was raised from the dead in 2010 with Let Me In, an indifferent remake of a far better movie, followed by The Resident that, despite the appearance of Horror Great Christopher Lee, hardly merited the Hammer name. Ditto Wake Wood and, especially, a truly embarrassing turn by 21-year-old Daniel Radcliffe as a widower with a child in The Woman in Black that, presumably thanks to Harry Potter, made money despite its many deficiencies.

And now Hammer offers up a truly ludicrous shocker that makes their 1972 ‘comedy’ Mutiny on the Buses seem really terrifying by comparison. Right at the start of this increasingly embarrassing supernatural shocker, Jared Harris states to his luckless costars “I hope you don’t scare easily”.

What follows, set in 1974, is a timeworn mélange of bad writing, overdone direction and even more overdone acting with Jared Harris’ Professor putting the ham into Hammer with an over-the-top performance that raises more laughs than even the increasingly silly screenplay by Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman and director John Pogue, “based on a screenplay by Tom de Ville” who would be well advised to ask for his name to be removed from the credits.

In one respect The Quiet Ones goes back to Hammer’s B Feature past when the studio ground out second features with then past-their-prime Hollywood stars who, it was hoped, might just win the movies a release in the USA.

So here Harris, fresh from the US TV hit Mad Men is the traditional genre mad scientist involved in experimenting on an apparently possessed young girl “who harbours unspeakable secrets” leading Harris and his team to uncover “dark forces… more terrifying than any of them expected”.

Unfortunately, despite attempts at staging ‘make you jump’ moments, louder and louder noises off, moments of unconvincing mayhem, a musical score that made me pray to go deaf and more cliches than a season of 100 horror movies, the only thing that terrified me was the feeling that the film was never going to end.

Which brings in another American import (albeit British-born) in Sam Claflin from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the cameraman filming the loony experiments in an old dark house. The key cast includes Olivia Cooke, keeping a commendably straight face in the face of the mounting supernatural nonsense she, the rest of the cast and the audience are subjected to.

Performances are perfunctory at best but given the screenplay and John Pogue’s hackneyed direction you can’t really blame the luckless actors. Blame yourself if you are foolish enough to pay to see it and if you do, then storm the box-office to ask them for your money back.

Hammer may have risen from the grave yet again, just like Dracula.

But, unlike Dracula, this waste of time and film stock never comes to life, even briefly.

Interestingly it is claimed that The Quiet Ones was "inspired by true events".

Even more interestingly, 'inspiration' is not a word that I would ever associate with the film.

Incidentally, while Hammer is/was a British company, the film is American.

(Incidentally, I counted 13 producers in the credits. Could this be the perfect case of too many cooks?)

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Apr 2014