There was a time when Hammer Film Productions meant something. From the late 50s through the 70s, they were well-known for churning out a plethora of horror films that featured fantastic actors, such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and dark, creepy atmospheres that could get under your skin with an overarching sense of dread. After this, they went into a period of dormancy that would last until the 2000s, where it was resurrected to bring us such films as the decent “Let Me In,” a remake of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” and “The Woman in Black,” a so-so horror film that capitalized on that classic sense of atmospheric dread. Now we come to their latest production, “The Quiet Ones,” a film that no one would ever guess came from the same classic production company that had delivered such quality horror films all those years ago.
The film tells the story of a professor, Joseph (Jared Harris), who, with the assistance of some students, is conducting an experiment to help a disturbed young woman, Jane (Olivia Cooke). It’s not entirely known what it is that is afflicting her, but they believe it to be something of a paranormal nature, something that Joseph has had experience with. Once the funding for their experiment is cut off, they decide to relocate to a small house in the middle of nowhere to continue their work, but as they proceed, the situation becomes more and more dangerous, putting all of their lives at risk as they struggle to fight against an evil force.
“The Quiet Ones” is one of the most uninspired horror films I’ve seen in the last several years. Sure, it says it’s “inspired by actual events,” but we all know what that really means at this point (i.e. lots of exaggeration). Even the title is extremely inaccurate. This is one of those horror flicks that doesn’t have any real scares to offer, so the filmmakers insert a jump scare and a loud bang on the soundtrack every few minutes in a desperate attempt to make you jump out of your seat. However, that’s not their only purpose for using them. Given that the film is one of the dullest horror offerings you will ever see, they have also included the jump scares to make sure you stay awake for the duration. In all honesty, if they weren’t there, the film would act as one of the best sleep inducers right next to a glass of warm milk.
But why is the film so dull? Because there is hardly any effort made to tell a story here, and what they do try to tell is so flat and unoriginal that there’s not a shred of hope in getting the audience engaged. What the film basically boils down to is a sad attempt at telling a demonic possession tale, one where the writers and director are just completely lost as to how to make it effective (yet another reason why it drags so heavily for its short, 98-minute duration). It becomes embarrassing to see the Hammer name on a film like this. Granted, not all of Hammer’s classic films were good, but they always had a certain amount of class to them from the actors right down to the lavish sets. “The Quiet Ones” doesn’t have a shred of class to offer and would merely leave the original Hammer owners blushing at how far their beloved company has fallen.
“The Quiet Ones” arrives on Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of decent quality. The film is a mixture of regular footage and seamlessly integrated footage from what’s supposed to be an imitation of an old-fashioned camera. Despite most of the film being rather dark, the picture remains satisfactorily sharp throughout the presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is at a good enough level so as not to require a volume adjustment, not that you’d want to have it very loud anyway due to the multitude of bangs on the soundtrack. Overall, there are no major complaints to be had in either department.
Audio Commentary with Director/Co-writer John Pogue and Producer Tobin Armbrust: A commentary track in which the director and co-producer don’t really have anything interesting to say, so it’s easily skippable.
Welcome to the Experiment: Making The Quiet Ones: Here we have the one really good extra on the disc: a 35-minute look behind the scenes at how the film came together, featuring interviews with the cast and crew. It’s a very informative featurette, so it’s definitely worth watching.
An Ominous Opening: A completely pointless inclusion that merely talks about the opening title sequence.
Deleted Scenes: About 12 minutes of extra scenes that aren’t worth the time to watch.
Outtakes: About three minutes of semi-amusing outtakes.
With its many desperate attempts at scares and a completely lacking narrative, “The Quiet Ones” is a failure on just about every level. Even looking at the film from a production standpoint, it’s badly directed, choppily edited, and has the feeling of something put together in a rush on an assembly line. Fans of horror are warned to stay away, while fans of Hammer are warned to stay even further away. These oblivious filmmakers should have taken a lesson from the old Hammer classics, which showed that you don’t need cheap scares to be effective. However, when you put absolutely no effort into it, you’re bound to end up with something as utterly time-wasting and forgettable as this.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Muppets Most Wanted, Locke, Bears, Divergent, Need for Speed, Noah, Dom Hemingway, Transcendence, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Cesar Chavez, Rio 2, Under the Skin, Open Grave, Deadly Eyes, Jodorowsky's Dune, Lake Placid, Nymphomaniac, Afflicted, House of Cards: Season Two, The Lego Movie, Ernest & Celestine, 13 Sins, Joe
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.