The Quiet Ones

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quiet ones PHOTO
“There’s another doll over there named ‘Chuckie’. Would you prefer that one?”

I remember being 13-years-old and listening to Siskel & Ebert review a Chuck Norris movie I liked. It obviously got a “thumbs down” and I screamed at the TV set, “Why not let a black belt in karate review the movie? They’ll appreciate the bad-a** and killer beard that is Chuck Norris!”

And unlike Elvis, who would’ve shot the TV, I merely gave it a roundhouse kick. Looking back, I realize 13-year-old boys would probably make horrible movie critics, but the initial point I had made a little sense. If somebody is a movie and/or theatre critic, and they prefer stuffy British dramas and foreign films, how could they possibly like a horror movie? I like all genres if they’re well made and entertaining, but I have a few friends that love horror movies. I brought one of them with me.

Joe Nelson, of SanDiegoRadio.org, accompanied me to the screening. I asked him afterward what he thought.

“I consider myself a horror movie junkie. I am pretty easy to please, but have seen some clunkers I couldn’t finish,” Nelson said.

The Quiet Ones ranks on the high end of those I have enjoyed. I am not going to say it will replace The Exorcist, but it kept me watching as well as intrigued.  I liked the cast, especially the possessed girl (Olivia Cooke) and the photographer (Sam Claflin) who was brought in to record the events. The score was another plus. Great music. I think it was a little louder than need be, but that’s probably just personal preference. One thing I believe is that the most difficult movie to produce would have to be horror. It’s all been done, so it’s how you present it. This film had a lot of effort put into it and I would recommend it to my horror friends.”

I do agree that it won’t make anybody forget about The Exorcist, and it wasn’t just him – this movie was way too loud. Sure, it scared me a few times, but I’m more scared that I may have suffered some hearing loss!

They played the Slade song “Come on Feel the Noise” about eight times. I wanted to scream, “I am feeling the noise, and it’s bothering my damn ears!”

So, the British studio Hammer is back to pumping out these horror flicks. I was pleasantly surprised with The Woman in Black (Daniel Ratcliff).

This had had decent British actors, but with a title like The Quiet Ones, I was hoping for a movie about the ghost of John Wayne. Instead of a western from 1954, it takes place in 1974 (the reason we hear Slade so much). Also nice to see movies giving T-Rex so much love these days (Dallas Buyers Club especially).

Yet when I kept hearing Slade, I was wondering if they were torturing this girl the way Bill Murray was with Sonny & Cher in Groundhog Day. We’ve all read about metal songs used as torture for prisoners (remember Guantanamo Bay?). In this, they have to keep this girl awake, and agitated. That’s what brings out her telekinetic powers.

Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) is experimenting on Jane (Olivia Cooke), and he hires three students to help. Cameraman Brian (Sam Claflin) is rather naïve, and for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, he immediately falls for Jane. It’s one thing to sympathize with the form of torture she’s dealing with, but love?

The other students are Kristina (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne). They are madly in love, and aren’t above scaring Brian for kicks. And as gorgeous as Kristina is, unlike the horror movies I remember of the ‘70s, we don’t get any topless scenes. Even when she’s taking a bath and gets out, it’s shown from the back. Hey…they wanted to keep that PG-13 rating.

I remember as a kid seeing an Australian movie called Patrick that dealt with some psychological scares, and I was hoping this movie would go more down that path instead of the occult.

The other characters didn’t have to be so one-dimensional, and we could’ve seen some good scares when Jane gets into their minds and messes with them.

Even though it’s now common place to show “found footage,” that always works well in these films. There’s the sound of the projector showing the images, the graining footage. It creates great atmosphere, as do a few of the other shots.

When another local critic was telling me about why he didn’t like Walking with the Enemy the other day, he said something along the lines of “Every time there was a slow moment, they’d have a Nazi come in and shoot somebody, or rape somebody, or…”

In this movie, every time there was a slow moment we’d hear a loud thud or something crash, and the students would go running. It got old quick. And with all this early ‘70s recording equipment, I got sick of the over-modulating sounds of microphones and speakers squealing when the ghost showed up. It was like Hendrix tuning up at the Fillmore.

The movie had a few good laughs, and a few nice scares. The professor had just the right amount of craziness in his eyes and voice. You wonder if he’s trying to help this girl, or if he’s just a sadistic nutjob; and boy does he love them cigarettes. I don’t think he did a single scene without one of those cancer sticks dangling from his lips. I was expecting him to see the ghost of the Marlboro Man.

This movie gets 2 stars out of 5. Horror fans will like it more than the critics did.

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