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Article by Teddy Durgin

The Quiet Ones fails to make much noise

"The Quiet Ones" centers on Oxford University Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris), who in 1974 assembles a team of three graduate students to try and "cure" the mentally disturbed Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke). As the film opens, it's clear almost immediately that the young woman may be under the spell of an ancient demon. Oxford, though, has grown wary of Coupland's secrecy and lack of results and pulls his funding. Convinced that he's on the verge of a breakthrough with Jane, he convinces his trio of dedicated pupils to follow him to a remote English countryside manner where they will continue their experiments on the woman - experiments that entail hypnosis, electro shock and, most cruelly of all, playing Slade's original version of "Cum on Feel the Noize" over and over again to rewire Jane's brain. She begins to fixate on a doll, pulling its hair out while in trances, and beckoning the evil spirit she calls "Lily" to enter the toy and make its presence felt. The first 10 or so minutes do a nice job of setting the table here for what could have been a dark and disturbing motion picture. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes clear that director John Pogue's bag of tricks is quite limited. "The Quiet Ones" is about 80 minutes of harsh, shrill, repetitive jump scares... and about 10 minutes of actual story. After a while, I just got tired of being constantly startled. A film like this only works if you feel fear for its characters. In this case, it was mission accomplished. Almost immediately, I felt very afraid for the health and well-being of Professor Coupland specifically. Oh, not because of the evil doings of Jane and her traveling friend, the Antichrist. I'm talking about Coupland's off-the-charts nicotine addiction! I'm not exaggerating when I write that there are two, maybe three scenes in this entire 90-minute flick where the Professor does NOT smoke. And the man never, EVER runs out of cigarettes! He's like Legolas with his arrows. Harris is even seen smoking when he is a background character in scenes... like way in the distant background, out of focus, and not even factoring into the sequence. Even in scenes where he is not even on screen but in the next room or down the hallway, you see a waft of the man's Marlboro vapors floating into frame. I actually wanted to create a drinking game around this man lighting up. I don't think I would have noticed so much if the film had had me in its grip. But it didn't, and that's a shame. Again, the table was set well here, and there was much potential with the cast. In addition to the well-picked Harris and Cooke, Sam Claflin of "The Hunger Games" registers as Brain, the team's good-hearted camera operator assigned to chronicle the entire Jane Harper experiment. Rory Fleck-Byrne is also interesting as tech-whiz Harry, who's up on all of the latest audio-visual equipment of the time. And Erin Richards' promiscuous assistant, Krissi, is all sorts of '70s period piece yummy as she hops from Harry's bed to Professor Coupland's bed and back again. Demons, man. They never like tramps. Unfortunately, Pogue has too little interest in exploring these different personalities as they come under pressure. Instead, he fixates on things that not only go bump in the night, but go bump, screech, smash and squeal in the night so loudly that they darn-near puncture your eardrums. When the time comes to explain just what the malevolent force is behind all those harsh sounds and random power surges, the explanation literally takes up about 60 seconds of screen time and then it's back to the next loud bang of a door or surprise smash of a light bulb. Ah well. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

"The Quiet Ones" is rated PG-13 for sequences of terror and violence, sexual content, thematic material, some language and smoking throughout

 

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