Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinema in the Darkness Presents...

The Quiet Ones (2014)
Directed by John Pogue
Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, and Erin Richards.
Reviewed by Anthony Servante.


A university professor conducts an experiment on a young woman, uncovering terrifyingly dark, unexpected forces in the process. Tucked away in an estate outside of London, Professor Coupland along with a team of university students conduct an "experiment" on Jane Harper, a young girl who harbors unspeakable secrets. What type of supernatural entity they uncover is more terrifying than any of them expected.


I'm a big Jared Harris fan. Whether he plays a villain (Moriarty to Robert Downey, Jr's Sherlock Holmes), hero or character of undetermined ethics, as he does here, he is entertaining to watch. He plays the professor who wants to prove that his patient, Jane Harper, can manifest her imaginary friend in the form of an evil poltergeist, and that once that evil is completely outside Jane, he can trap it in a doll. What he doesn't believe is that the evil force is anything other than the projection of Jane's thoughts. 

Jared Harris

Two graduate students, Harry and Krissi, serve as the professor's assistants, but Krissi is also sex toy for both Harry and Coupland. Brian is the person hired to film the proceedings but who falls for the delicate goth patient Jane. Who cares that an evil presence is following her every move, Brian is in love. But it's that presence that keeps the movie interesting.

Initially, the movie goer will have to endure several jump-scares. Cover your ears. They are loud and unexpected. About thirty minutes into the movie, however, they dissipate. I think the director wanted to grab our attention and keep it. It works, because into the rest of the movie, I kept expecting another bang and boom appearance of the evil entity messing with our team of psychic investigators. But the story shifted to the team's naughty shenanigans and the professor's obsession with isolating Jane's psychic power and trapping it in the doll that he gives his patient to focus her energies. 

But suddenly a backstory develops. The little boy that the professor shows his class in a film at the beginning of the movie turns out to have some ties to the psychic creature in Jane. Now the story begins to lean toward exorcism, which Krissi jokes about, what with her modern technology and all. Who needs a priest when you've got motion sensors and sound monitors?! Well, maybe someone should have called a priest. It turns out that Jane is not possessed; the monster is her companion. And no, this is not a spoiler. Let's just say that little boy holds the key to the entire story.

As the body count mounts, poor love-struck Brian wants to rescue Jane from this experiment gone mad. But all is not as it appears. Who's been experimenting on whom? 

It's good to see British Horror on the screen again. The Brits have been putting out scary movies since Dead of Night (1945). And they have that dry way of approaching that subject. There's Godzilla for the Japanese, but the Brits have the alien poltergeists from 5 Million Years to Earth with Professor Bernard Quartermass. Same can be said for those Japanese ghosts with the flowing hair from the early Noughts; here the Brits answer with an intelligent demonic creature who toys with its victims. There's nothing wrong with smart horror.

But sometimes smart isn't enough. The love triangle between the students and the professor elicited more giggles than necessary for a movie that wanted to scare us. It was creepy seeing the older man and the young girl, especially since we were made to believe the other grad student was her boyfriend. But this is a a small complaint. The horror was good, and the evil force was wicked fun, much more fun than the rest of the cast. That broody Brian did wear on one's nerves. However, I do recommend this film for students of British Horror who would like to welcome intelligence back into a scary movie. 

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