I was lucky enough to see an advance screening tonight of The Quiet Ones which tells the “true” story of Professor Joseph Coupland who conducting “The Experiment” on his subject Jane Harper. It was directed by John Pogue and stars Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne. I say true in quotes earlier because the film starts by saying it is, “Inspired by true events”. Take that for what it’s worth.
SPOILER ALERT: This movie is not in general release at the time of this writing. This review will speak openly about the plot of the movie and WILL contain spoilers. If you do not want to know detailed plot information stop reading now and return after you’ve seen the film.
It’s 1974 at the University of Oxford and we open in a classroom where the professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) is talking about a boy who’s apparently possessed. However, the professor doesn’t really buy that explains to the class how more research can be done to cure this type of illness. He goes on to explain that if he can heal one person, we can heal the whole world.
We hear quite a bit about “The Experiment” and one of the students in the class, a video nut named Brian (Sam Claflin) becomes interested in learning more. After a short chat with Joseph, he’s invited to be the official videographer for the project. We’re then introduced to Joseph’s subject Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) and his two assistants Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) and Krissi (Erin Richards). Harry is your typical go getter, Krissi is a sexed up good looking gal that typically dies early in these flicks and Jane an excuse the pun “Plane Jane” character who’s forgotten most of her past. She’s depressed, suicidal and being kept awake by Joseph and his crew when they pump heavy metal into the room where she’s kept under lock and key “for her own good”.
Joseph tells Brian to record “everything” but to not look Jane in the eye or speak to her too much. Naturally, Brian does just the opposite and has an encounter with Jane right off the bat where he speaks to her at length. Joseph is taken in front of what looks like a disciplinary board and we learn that his funding has been cut and that he’d have to move Jane off campus. His 3 assistants agree to come along for the duration of “The Experiment”.
Once at our new location, we’re given a bit more info about The Experiment when we’re told that they’re trying to make Jane realize what’s inside of her “possessing” her. She’s given a doll which she’s supposed to use as a conduit for this energy. We learn that this “energy” is named Evey.
From here they continue “experimenting” on Jane using various drugs, lights, candles, etc. on her to bring her closer to the brink of insanity while bringing Evey closer to the surface. We learn that Krissi & Harry are a couple, but also that Joseph has a *cough* relationship Krissi. All the while, Brian is falling for Jane.
A few days (weeks?) later, Jane “escapes” from her room one evening, the electricity goes out in the house and the remaining group goes looking for her. They find her in the attic and she’s talking to Evey which is laying in a crib (though no one else can see her). When Jane goes to pick Evey she catches on fire and she’s “marked” with an occult symbol which Brian discovers to be a cult symbol. The cult worshiped a God they believed to be possessing a litle girl named Evey and they were all killed when their house burned killing them all.
We then get the first of two big twists in the movie. See, it turns out the possessed boy Professor Joseph was talking about in the opening scene was in fact his son. He’s dedicated his life to figuring out what killed his son and sees Jane as that answer. Jane finally goes beserk letting “Evey” come out and kills Krissi & Harry (off screen). Joseph manages to drug her while she attempts to kill Brian and he wants to continue “The Experiment” by killing her and then bringing her back to life (a la Flatliners). Apparently this will release Evey and save Jane (seems plausible).
Joseph injects Jane, killing her, Brian comes to from being knocked out, wrestles with Joseph and knocks him out. He injects Jane with adrenaline to the heart and brings her back to life. She says that she cannot be healed and reveals to him that she is in fact Evey! She pushes Brian out of the room, telekinetically locks the door and sets herself and the room on fire.
The film ends with Brian in custody being questioned about what really happened. He says that the truth is on the film that he’s taken but he’s told that the film was all lost in the fire.
This was a super enjoyable flick! There’s a couple of really good performances and while it was only PG-13 the film managed to ratchet up the intensity and throw in a couple of really good jump scares. The cast is small which I actually found myself appreciating as I was able to follow along, know who everyone was and really “get” the story. Olivia Cooke (Jane) and Sam Claflin (Brian) are the “main” characters I suppose but the stand out performance here is by Jared Harris as Joseph. He plays the scholar on the edge quite well and is believable the whole way through. Erin Richards is smoking hot and seductive but is sort of wasted here. Rory Fleck-Byrne is good with a couple of one-liners to add a bit levity to an otherwise pretty humorless flick.
I hate to review one film by comparing it to another, but the similarities between The Quiet Ones and The Conjuring are too numerous to overlook. In general though, that’s a very good thing as I absolutely loved The Conjuring. This is another period horror / thriller that’s based on actual events. This works well for these sort of “ghost stories” because the crappy technology and cameras make for a nice gritty picture and difficulty “capturing” for the characters. They also use (to great effect) the shaky camera, in the dark, with a spotlight gimmick. No matter how many times I see this type of shot when it’s done well as it is here it brings a smile to my face.
The movie suffers quite a bit from being PG-13. With a story such as this you don’t really need all that much blood and guts, but it’s essentially non-existent here. We get one scene where Jane is in the bath and she gets up and we see a millisecond of a nipple but that’s it for the nudity. The few kills we get here are off screen and even the aftermath isn’t all that gory.
I was also sort of miffed that “The Experiment” was never truly explained. I guess we were just sort of supposed to forget about it after it was revealed that Joseph was the boy’s father but I’m not QUITE sure exactly what he was trying to do or how (or why) he was trying to free Jane from her torment.
Another thing that I really noticed… the smoking. This is period piece so it makes sense that there’s much more smoking than in today’s films. I’m an anti-tobacco advocate so I’m hyper sensitive to how smoking and dipping is portrayed in the films I watch. The smoking certainly didn’t detract from the film whatsoever but I certainly noticed its prevalence.
The two twists here were well played. I probably could have pieced the first one together (that Joseph was the boy’s dad) and once that first shoe dropped it wasn’t all that surprised that Jane was Evey, but I honestly didn’t see that one coming either. I’d actually thought that the boy in the beginning was actually going to be Joseph himself so I was at least on the right track. After Jane essentially killed herself it was clear that Brian was going to be the one to carry on the “evil”. And while I enjoyed this quite a bit I really hope it was a stand alone film as it certainly doesn’t require a sequel.
This was a really well made horror / thriller flick. It’s yet another period flick but it does quite a few things incredibly well. It suffers from not having a R rating but based on the story I’m not sure how much some additional blood would really help. Seeing a little more of Erin Richards would be nice but it wouldn’t add much more than a gratuitous scene which isn’t warranted. The comparisons to The Conjuring will certainly come and you can see why. And while I don’t think it will be as big at the box office as The Conjuring it should certainly do well as it delivers some jumps, a good story and a couple of really good performances. I had a truly enjoyable time watching it and didn’t look at my watch once. The Quiet Ones does a great job of amping up the suspense and delivers those jump scares that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Solid recommend to kick off the Summer movie season.
For more information on The Quiet Ones, please check out the links below!
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thequietonesmovie
- Twitter: @LionsgateHorror
- Official Site: www.thequietonesmovie.com
Have you seen The Quiet Ones? Let us know what you think in a comment below!