DIRECTOR John Pogue WRITER Craig Rosenberg; Oren Moverman; John Pogue STARS Jared Harris; Sam Claflin; Olivia Cooke CINEMA 10 April
Based upon the real-life Philip Experiment and boasting a pleasing, seventies aesthetic, The Quiet Ones holds much potential for some retro, under-the-skin psychological ambiguity crossed with all-out supernatural horror. And yet, what we have here is something of a treading-water experience, a strong opener leading through no real development in suspense over the run-time, the script choosing to view its story via what it intends a moralistic comment on human manipulation for gain, a thread that would feel more appropriate as complementary and/or a balance to the supernatural, as opposed to driving force. As such, a script crying for a horror backbone is frustratingly weak for the most part, its tedious jump-scares no substitute, and the confiding of the past of the traumatised individual at its heart is clumsy at best.
The cinematography, however, is strong, elevating the film to more of a missed opportunity rather than an overall bad. A 16mm feel is, if not entirely convincing, a lovely layer to what is largely a feast for Hammer aficionados’ eyes, and the decision to shy away from what could easily have been found footage was wise, the realism of a camera-wielding character dropping his equipment in panic refreshing. Also of note are the performances of Olivia Cooke and Jared Harris as the primary factors to the experiment, the former working hard to bring form to her minimally-sketched character, while Harris is convincingly manipulative. It is unfortunate that the pair are lacking in complement by cringeworthy support performances.