Sunday, August 24, 2014


I don't know why The Quiet Ones was made in 2012 but sat for two years before being released. All I can think is that there have been so many movies like it in the past few years - demonic possession, found footage etc. - that the movie's producers wanted to wait until the coast was clear. 

One of those producers happens to be Hammer Films, the iconic British company responsible for many horror classics of the 1950s, '60s, and 70s. After a few decades away from the action, the group has returned in recent years with some good offerings, namely The Woman In Black (2012), and Let Me In (2010).  The Quiet Ones is a solid effort, and makes one think the rebooted company is still on the right path.

Jarred Harris plays a professor who enlists a handful of his students to help him with an experiment. It's a gruesome one, involving a young woman that many believe is possessed by an evil spirit.  Harris believes the girl is actually suffering from mental illness, and he plans to lock her away in a house and provide her with therapy that will cure her of what ails her. The students are along to film it, and also to stand around and look youthful. The movie is set in 1974, but director John Pogue is smart enough to not drench it in bogus '70s atmosphere. (We do hear some Slade and T-Rex, which is nice for a change. When was the last time we heard 'Telegram Sam' in a horror movie?)

The movie works best when Harris is onscreen. He's a Hammer character through and through, and I can imagine him alongside Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee or any of the great Hammer stars. Also, the movie   was  shot in and around Oxfordshire, and at times achieves the dewy look of a Hammer film of the 1970s.

The Quiet Ones is not perfect.  It's slow at times, and somewhat predictable.  Then again, the same could be said about a lot of Hammer films.  

To be sure, it is worth seeing. There are times when Harris is so right for the job that you overlook everything else that isn't right. 

Cam2Cam is not interested in telling a story, or creating compelling characters, or giving us a reason to invest in it for 91 minutes. It's existence seems solely to be about "freaking us out" a little, and keeping us off balance. True, we can never quite tell what's going on, but a director should have more in mind than leaving his audience puzzled. 

The movie starts off with some mild promise - a young American woman (Jade Tailor) in Bangkok finds herself being bothered by one of those on-line creeps who pretends to be one of her female friends. It turns out he's one of her neighbors, and is far more dangerous than she would even imagine. Unless, that is, she watches a lot of horror movies where young women are decapitated. 

Her younger sister Annie (Tammin Sursok) travels to Bangkok to see what she can learn about her sister's murder. She finds herself living in her sister's old apartment building, a seedy place filled with perverts, lesbians, and disenfranchised slackers. They all seem to be employed by a kinky social media site where people log on to watch other people take their clothes off. For some reason, a lot of them wear clown makeup.  There's not much else worth reporting, although I liked Russell Banks as the killer. He has a nice meltdown scene, which made me wish he'd been in the movie a bit more. 

Joel Soisson's direction is caught between two styles - he wants to create a traditional slasher movie with a lot of sex and kink, but he also wants to be artsy fartsy, as if he's above the  material. He thinks by pulling away from the murder to show blood slapping the walls is somehow better than a full-on beheading. The idea that the Internet is a scary place is old hat by now, and the erotic stuff feels like an old Madonna video. I'll give Soisson and his cinematographer  credit for their depiction of Bangkok. They make the city look grim and decadent, a pretty good setting for a different movie. 

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