Judge Alice Nelson has never been known as the quiet one.
Cure one patient, you cure all of mankind.
The Quiet Ones is loosely, and I mean loosely based on the 1972 Canadian experiment called the "Phillip Experiment." It involved Dr. Alan Owen, his wife Iris, and six other individuals attempting to "create" a ghost using the human mind. The group of eight believed that they could collectively construct a ghost through prolonged concentration—I suppose anything's possible. They even went as far as to name their ghost Phillip Aylesford—nice name for a spiritual entity don't ya think?
The group created Phillip's story in great detail right up to his tragic death. They also conducted séances where they said "Phillip" actually made contact with them by moving tables and answering the groups' questions—never mind that the group is the one who created Phil, so is it really that surprising that their made up ghost was able to answer their questions? Sounds like a lot of hogwash to me, but at least it resulted in The Quiet Ones, a movie that really didn't need the disclaimer "Based on Actual Events." So when you do watch it—and I really think you should—go in knowing that nothing on the screen actually happened. Just sit back and enjoy the film for what it is—a darned good and very effective horror movie.
Facts of the Case
Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris Lincoln) is obsessed with a disturbed young woman that he believes only he can cure. With the assistance of two eager students and a filmographer, Coupland sets out to prove that the girl's supposed possession by an evil spirit, is in fact a creation of her own mind. But Coupland is blind to any other possibilities, and when the others begin to see that there may very well be some paranormal activity going on, Coupland's arrogance and erratic behavior puts everyone, including that poor young woman, at risk.
I know what you're thinking, "Not another paranormal movie about possession and telekinesis, these kinds of movies are a dime a dozen." You're right to be skeptical; throw a rock and it's bound to go through the window of a house where a film of this type is sitting on the coffee table. But when done well, a movie like this can bring a much needed spark to a genre crowded with mostly mediocre efforts.
First off let me say The Quiet Ones doesn't actually do anything new with the genre, but it is head and shoulders above most films with this subject matter; thanks to a talented cast, an equally talented director in John Pogue (U.S. Marshals), and writers who took a mostly preposterous sounding story and turned it into an effectively scary movie.
Joseph Coupland (pronounced Copeland), is a professor of Abnormal psychology at the prestigious Oxford University; and what could be more abnormal than a young girl who believes she is possessed by a spirit named "Evee" (Use the long E sound please). The girl is named Jane Harper, and she spent a good deal of her life locked in a mental facility due to her strange behavior. She is placed into Coupland's custody, and along with two of his ace students, they use experimental treatments hoping to prove that this "Evee" character is a creation of Jane's own doing.
Jared Harris is really wonderful as Professor Coupland; he is one of those steady actors you see all the time, and one from whom you expect a good performance. Here he does not disappoint, from the beginning Coupland seems a bit unstable, given much too much leeway by the university to experiment with a vulnerable girl. Coupland has a powerful personality that draws people in, but underneath the façade he is a deeply disturbed man. By the time the others realize just how nuts the guy really is, they are in far too deep to turn back.
Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) is top notch as the timid Jane Harper; at one moment she looks like a fearful child, than when this "Evee" chick takes over she is scary as hell. Jane wants so desperately to believe that Coupland can cure her, that she agrees to do anything asked of her by the good professor. All she desires is to be rid of her "dark passenger" (I borrowed that term from the show Dexter, but it fits), and live a normal life.
Brian, played by Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), is the project's official chronicler, and the only one who does not attend the university—this gives him a clarity that the other two students don't have. But Brian makes the mistake of falling for Jane, and wants to protect her from the ever increasing nuttiness of Coupland. Other than Cooke and Harris, Claflin is one of the main focal points of The Quiet Ones, the one source who instinctively wants to protect Jane, not treat her as a guinea pig. However, that trait eventually becomes his downfall. Erin Richards (Open Grave), and Rory Fleck-Byrne (Vampire Academy) round out this very strong cast of actors as Coupland's student assistants, Krissi Dalton and Harry Abrams.
The Quiet Ones is set in the early '70s, and is spot on when it comes to portraying the look and feel of the time. The 1.78:1 presentation does a fantastic job of having that old film look, especially when viewing the footage shot by Brian. No fancy digital cameras here folks, these are the 1970s, so all Brian has is a big ol' honkin' thang that uses actual film—yes kids, film! The Dolby 5.1 audio, works well to highlight the dialogue, and the appropriately scary soundtrack. Special features include an audio commentary, deleted scenes, and outtakes, as well as a digital copy, so you can scare your friends on the go.
Maybe The Quiet Ones is based on a pretty shaky "true story," but as a standalone film it works on several levels. It may have all the elements of the many paranormal movies released each year, but it is catapulted past all those entries by the things that every good film has in common—good acting, writing, and directing.
Evee says it's not guilty; and what Evee wants, Evee gets.
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