Back in 1972 a dubious group of parapsychologists conducted a series of even more dubious séances in Canada under the umbrella of what would come to be known as “The Phillip Experiment”. The plan was to tap into a well of residual psychic energy, contact someone on the ‘other side’ and then push it to manifest in the physical world to be measured and catalogued. As to whether this succeeded or not depends on who or what you believe in.
Loosely based on these experiments, The Quiet Ones (2014) is another solid effort from the recently resurrected Hammer Films. More science-fiction than horror, the film eschews the usual jump scares as a (mad) professor assembles a team of TAs (Richards, Fleck-Byrne) and a cameraman for hire to conduct a clandestine experiment on a girl who seems to be possessed and tormented by some malignant menace manifesting itself in several destructive ways (-- including spontaneous combustion). But truth told the harrowing battery of tests and constant deprivation she endures actually seems worse than anything they manage to stir up. And these inhumane tactics are why this is all happening well off-campus because the powers-that-be got wind of it and initially shut them down.
Feeling the supernatural does not exist in the classical sense, Professor Coupland (Harris) believes whatever entity is possessing young Jane (Cooke) -- identifying itself as Evie, is just some scientific phenomenon that hasn't been codified yet; a medical condition that can eventually be cured once it’s properly identified. One of his goals is to have Jane transfer this dark force into one of her dolls so they can then destroy it. Thus, undaunted, the experiments continue and escalate as the girl is put through all kinds of hell but the end result he wants remain stubbornly elusive.
Ancient Sumerian cult subplots and seedy motives abound amongst our researchers in this 1970s period piece, the vast majority of which is told through the camera lens of Brian McNeil (Claflin), who quickly becomes upset with the way the subject is being treated and eventually falls in love with her. And what follows is kind of a slow and deliberate train-wreck as these plot-threads collide when we breach the climax and the true root cause of what ails Jane is uncovered. But is it already too late?
After such a great build up, the ending of The Quiet Ones was a bit of a mess -- more like a collision of theories, debunks, and cat-fights as things are finally pushed too far and no one escapes unscathed – some more fatally scathed than others. Still, I found the slow-burn and fairly grounded approach worked really well, the found footage angle actually enhanced rather than detracted, and the ultimate ending, though predictable, satisfactory. As always, your ectoplasm levels may vary.
What is Hubrisween? This is Hubrisween. And now, Boils and Ghouls, be sure to follow this linkage to keep track of the whole conglomeration of reviews for Hubrisween right here. Or you can always follow we collective head of knuckle on Letterboxd.
The Quiet Ones (2014) Exclusive Media Group :: Hammer Films :: Traveling Picture Show Company :: Lionsgate / EP: Kate Bacon, Alexander Yves Brunner, Carissa Buffel, Guy East, Jillian Longnecker, Kevin Matusow, Marc Schipper, Lauren Selig, Nigel Sinclair / P: Tobin Armbrust, James Gay-Rees, Ben Holden, Simon Oakes, Steven Chester Prince, Geno Tazioli, Bill Wohlken / D: John Pogue / W: Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman, John Pogue / C: Mátyás Erdély / E: Glenn Garland / M: Lucas Vidal / S: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne