Directed by John Pogue
Written by Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman
Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke
A university professor and a team of students conduct an experiment on a young woman, uncovering terrifyingly dark, unexpected forces in the process.
John Pogue’s directorial career thus far has been short. The Quiet Ones is only his second helmed project after Quarantine 2 (who knew that the English language version of REC had even spawned a sequel, because it had passed completely under my radar). And for Pogue, survival horror appears to be the order of the day, choosing to become embroiled in this story, based on true events (oh dear) of an Oxford University’s professor’s attempt to ‘cure’ a young girl of an affliction of what appears to be schizophrenia or some such other mental frazzlement. Regardless, the poor thing is giving off way too much negative energy to be comfortable, so the Professor’s plan is to draw it out of her and, by the simple nature of its absence, make her well again.
Sounds simple enough, but there are plans afoot by the University to withdraw his funding, probably due to the amount of Slade being blasted out of his residence and the inevitable complaints this caused. “Mama We’re All Crazy Now” must have been chosen out of irony. Given the time period, 1974, it seems just too perfect to be believable. So, given that if you spotted it, you might be forgiven for thinking that this project is a little tongue in cheek, but this does not appear to be the impression that Pogue wants you to leave the theatre with.
Gathering together a rag tag collection of ‘colleagues’ (see ‘students’ that work for peanuts and are naive enough to willingly do something very dangerous) to aid him in this endeavour, Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) leaves the University grounds, shacking up in a somewhat dilapidated house, where he duly carries on his experiments like nothing had ever happened, barely stopping to catch a breath. What his reasons are for such focused pursuance of the truth and resolution will become clear over time, but Harris does well to not devolve Coupland into Frankenstein here, even if his single-minded vision and assuredness of idealogy appears strong enough to bend cold steel.
Joining the Professor on his quest for truth are Krissi (Erin Richards) and on-off lover Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne). They are soon joined by the clueless but good-natured cameraman Brian, played by Sam Claflin. The focus of all of this attention, the quarry that needs a jolly good all-round excavation, is Jane Harper, in an admittedly muted but nonetheless impressive performance by Olivia Cooke (pictured).
In summary, a slow-burn, largely non-action horror yarn that is, if we’re honest, brutally average in most areas of production and performance. There is the occasional rare chill here and there and whilst not the travesty we might rightly have been expecting, it is no pearl either.