I review horror movies; it’s what I do. I’ve trudged through a lot of terrible titles, but it makes the trudging worth it when a movie like The Quiet Ones ends up in my review pile. I’d previous felt this way about The Conjuring, which is saying quite a lot.
The Quiet Ones takes inspiration from the 1972 Philip experiment. In it a group of Canadian parapsychologists wanted to create a ghost from the human mind. The theory aimed to prove the human mind could create spirits through imagination, expectation, and visualisation. While The Philip Experiment took place in Canada, The Quiet Ones is a British film.
As I said the film is loosely based on these events. A young student, David (Aldo Maland), is hired by Oxford Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) to film an experiment he is conducting. The professor is joined by two aids, Krissi Dalton (Erin Richards) and Harry Abrams (Rory Fleck-Byrne), as they try to disprove hauntings as nothing more than a physical manifestation of the human mind. Their experiment is conducted on a troubled girl, Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke), who’s had “paranormal” activity follow her throughout her life. When Oxford University pulls funding on the experiment the group is forced to re-locate to a secluded house in the British countryside. As the experiments intensify we’re shown more and more about Jane and her imaginary friend, Evey.
The film is a horror, but can be considered a drama in some respects. A lot of focus is put into the characters and their relationships, which is something rare for the horror genre. Usually we wait for the body count to hit the double digits and guess who will be killed off next. It’s a refreshing take.
Olivia Cooke’s portrayal of Jane is fantastic. The actress is able to flip from bubbly and happy, to angry and suicidal in a matter of moments. You begin to feel for her and the events she’s being subjected to, but at the same time fear what she may do next. Jared Harris’s performance carries the same cool, calm, collected, and crazy persona of most of his previous roles, but that isn’t a bad thing. He plays the obsessed Professor with ease and forces you to question his relationship with Jane and Evey.
The special effects are mostly minimal as the British show us not all movies have to be big-budget and overdone. We see burning hands, blood, auras and more, but what lets’ it down is one particular scene involving Jane’s throat – you’ll know it when you see it.
There’s no doubt The Quiet Ones is a scary movie. It very rarely relied on jump scares, and rather built up tension as it went along. While it’s marred by some acting and technical aflaws, The Quiet Ones it a diamond in the rough. If given a bit more polish I think it could have come close to The Conjuring.
Purchase The Quiet Ones for your loved one this holiday season and watch them quiver with fear. It’s – as they say – to die for.