I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore horror fan in that, while I love horror movies, I’m not rabid about seeing every single one ever made. Depending on what the trailer looks like, or what other fans have had to say, I may or may not get excited about a particular offering. That’s why I had high hopes for The Quiet Ones. I know what you’re going to say. Sure the trailer looks good, but don’t they just put the best stuff in there to get you to see the movie? Indeed they do, but the genre has recently redeemed itself with The Conjuring and Evil Dead (at least to me) so why not expect the same in this case?
Since the movie is fairly recent, I’m not going to offer too many spoilers (it’s not like you can’t read the entire plot on Wikipedia anyways). Suffice to say that it follows the exploits of Professor Joseph Coupland and his assistants on their quest to prove that supernatural phenomenon can be scientifically explained as the manifestation of negative energy. To this end they conduct experiments on willing subject Jane Harper, a young woman who has no memory of her past and who has been repeatedly sent to different foster homes. She claims to be in contact with Evey, the spirit of a young child who Joseph believes is nothing more than an expression of said negative energy. His hope is that ‘she’ can be channeled and removed, thus curing Jane. Do I really need to tell you this fails miserably?
The Quiet Ones is (supposedly) loosely based on the Philip Experiment. Personally I think that if they had stuck to that script, they would have ended up with a better movie. For those not in the know the ‘Philip Experiment was conducted by the Toronto Society for Psychical Research in the early 1970s. The idea was to create a fictional character, the aforementioned Philip, and attempt to contact him through séances. The idea behind this was to prove that phenomena such as poltergeist activity were products of the human mind and not supernatural visitations. Contact was indeed made with an entity claiming to be Philip who communicated through raps on the table. The entity also exhibited psychokinetic abilities. Was this a creation of the minds of the researchers, or a prankster from another realm?
For those who have seen the movie, you get where I’m going with this, right? Imagine how much more could have been done with a dreary, old house if there was no Jane Harper at all…only Evey. Now I know that Jane Harper was the central character in the story, but her storyline was so ridiculously convoluted that it added nothing. I know that the creators were going for a twist but, even in this genre, it at least has to make a modicum of sense. First Evey is a creation of Jane’s, then Evey is possessing Jane, then Evey is Jane, then something gets transferred to another character by the end of the movie. Seriously?
I’m not saying that The Quiet Ones wasn’t without its moments, just that they were too few and far between to be effective. I like being teased as much as the next person, but I’m going to get very annoyed if there’s no follow through. And that is the bottom line of what’s wrong with the movie. I could take the failed attempts at a gothic love triangle. I could take the rambling storyline. I could even take the annoying teeny-boppers a few rows down. I could take all of this if I were genuinely scared at any point in the movie. But I wasn’t. There were a few times when I was hopeful because things were finally happening on screen, only to have the camera pan to more of the interminable character conversations. Don’t promise me the pie and then hand me some crumbs.
All in all, apart from the company, The Quiet Ones goes down as yet another in a long line of disappointments by a movie industry that refuses to understand what true fear entails.