The Quiet Ones (2014) | Hammer steps back into the 1970s with a chillingly effective Demons of the Mind possession horror

The Quiet Ones_Yellow Quad

In May 1974, unorthodox Oxford professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) begins a controversial experiment with research assistants Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) and cameraman Brian (Sam Claflin). Based on the theory that paranormal activity is caused by human negative energy, and wanting a cure for mental illness, Coupland undertakes some questionable tests on 19-year-old Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke), who believes she is possessed by an entity called ‘Evie’ and has no memory of her childhood.

When his funding is abruptly cut (warning: never play Slade at full volume), Coupland leads his team to a sprawling abandoned house in the countryside where their radical experiments continue uninterrupted. But as Coupland pushes Jane to the edge of sanity (using surveillance, sedatives and sleep deprivation), unexplained occurrences begin to take place, which triggers a force more terrifying than Coupland could have ever have imagined…

The Quiet Ones (2014)

Hammer CEO Simon Oakes describes The Quiet Ones as the kind of film the studio would have been making if they were still in business in the mid-1970s. Well it certainly pays homage to the era, in which satanic/possession films like 1973’s The Legend of the Hell House and The Exorcist (both set in contemporary times) were in vogue, while the film’s themes of psychological horror and soul transference echo those in the 19th-century-set Demons of the Mind and The Asphyx, made the year before.

Fans of classic British horror will have fun spotting the (intentional?) film references; is it just me or does Coupland’s young son look like Martin Stephens from Village of the Damned, and doesn’t the mansion that Coupland moves his team into look like Down Place, the country house at Bray Studios that was used for many a classic Hammer horror?

The Quiet Ones (2014)

Even the characters seem to be channelling real life personalities of the period. Sam Claflin’s sensitive Brian has shades of Witchfinder General wunderkind Michael Reeves in his manners and dress sense – with the added sex appeal of Warhol star Joe Dallesandro; Erin Richard’s flirtatious Chrissie, seductive in her bobby sox and mini skirt, is part Madeline Smith English Rose, part Linda Hayden free spirit; while Rory Fleck-Byrne’s ineffectual techie Harry makes for a perfect bumbling Rob Askwith type of foil.

Writer/director John Pogue (who also penned 2002’s Ghost Ship and two sequels in The Skulls franchise) creates a suitably chilly atmosphere in which his science versus faith horror tale unfolds, before unleashing (at my count) five good scares –  the steam bath scene is geniunely creepy, and watch out for the teleplasm!

The Quiet Ones (2014)

Both Jared Harris (last seen hanging himself in TV’s Mad Men) and Olivia Cooke (currently in my must-watch US drama, Bates Motel) are excellent as the obsessed Coupland and his ‘willing’ subject, the doe-eyed Jane – who may or may not be hiding the truth about her ‘condition’. But the scenes of running about in the dark come off as a bit silly – like something out of TV’s Most Haunted. Aside from that, it’s a huge thrill to see a new Hammer film on the big screen – even if the revived studio, whose last film was the Edwardian spookfest The Woman in Black, hasn’t ‘yet’ decided to shake off the past…

A question to the filmmakers: Who are the Quiet Ones?

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Follow on Twitter: #TheQuietOnes


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 11, 2014, in British Film, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, Might See, Might-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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