“The Quiet Ones” is the latest release in the genre of PG-13 rated based on actual events supernatural horror flicks. While another such film is certainly a welcomed and preferable alternative to the gory slasher flick, it suffers somewhat from oversaturation. What was once a refreshingly scary return to an older style of filmmaking has left us anticipating the bumps in the night and allowed us to get a little too comfortable with a feeling that we know what’s coming. The end result is a less scary picture.
With that being said, “The Quiet Ones” still gets some things right with the period look of the film being chief among them. The story takes place in 1974 England and the very film stock has the faded color and grainy look of many movies actually made in the seventies. The largely depressing English countryside and buildings of academia add to the effect and the costumes are spot on as well.
Olivia Cooke, best known as the sweet “oxygen girl” Emma on TV’s “Bates Motel,” gives a creepy yet helpless and unadorned performance as Jane Harper. Jane is a troubled girl with a history of unfortunately failed placements in foster care. The fringe Oxford Professor Joseph Coupland (a creepy in his own right Jared Harris) makes her an experimental subject under the pretense of seeking to help her. He enlists two students (Sam Claflin, Erin Richards) and a videographer (Rory Fleck-Byrne) to help him try to bring forth Jane’s negative energy into a physical form that can be destroyed.
What begins as an intriguing story unfortunately becomes bogged down and convoluted by getting pulled in too many directions and losing clarity. We feel a bit confused by the character interactions and disappointed by the lack of any real scares by the time we start to learn, at no surprise, that there is more to Jane than negative energy. And the ending is akin to one of Stephen King’s “I don’t know what to do so I’ll blow everything up” finishes. There's also only one reference about the professor's aids late in the movie that seems to relate to the title. Some good stuff here, but dissatisfaction as well.