Friday, February 20, 2015

In short: The Quiet Ones (2014)

By my count, John Pogue’s (spoiler) possession horror “based on true events” whose plot I find too tedious to synopsize, is by far the worst film the undead new version of Hammer studios brought out since it got serious about the whole filmmaking gig. (Of course, I wrote this before having seen The Woman in Black 2, my editing persona who has seen that film now adds with a shudder).

I do not base this assessment on Pogue’s technical abilities – the film’s a pleasure to look at, and while I don’t buy the POV horror parts as authentically made during the 70s, they mostly don’t fall into the worst traps of the style. In this case, it’s really all the script’s fault. The credits inform it’s by Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman, Pogue and “based on” the screenplay by Tom de Ville, which already suggests what the resulting film really turns out to be – a film full of undead parts of earlier drafts of the whole affair walking around without a good reason, and clearly without the involvement of anyone willing or able to clean the mess up and bring it to coherence.

So if you want to watch a film that knows what its theme is, you’re really shit out of luck here because there are suggestions of half a dozen thematic bases here none of which will then be actually explored or brought together with the other one’s in any shape or form. Thanks to this, The Quiet Ones is less a narrative but a series of false beginnings that never lead anywhere, with the film’s main interest clearly in providing some cheap, seldom bloody scares. It’s just too bad that scares can mean only little in a film that doesn’t have any actual context for them, a picture full of one-note characters who never act with any internal logic (I’m not against people under stress acting irrationally in movies but people’s irrationality is still connected to their personality, which the film’s characters alas just don’t have), and are slaves to the terrible whims of many a moments of It’s In The Script writing. Because it’s clearly more important to a film to put in some stupid plot twist, or three dozen loud jump scares, than to work from a script that is internally consistent, or meaningful.

Not surprisingly, the resulting movie is an exercise in frustration, with single scenes sometimes working quite well if you look at them as standing on their own but never cohering to anything, not even an interesting kind of incoherence, the supernatural here being about as anti-rational as a piece of soap.

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