“THE QUIET ONES” (Blu-ray Review)
Follwing their comeback in 2008, Hammer Films has certainly aimed to live up to their legacy of horror with dignity. In the tradition of their classics, the company set its mind on films that didn’t focus on body count as much as they did on the actual story. It was befitting that their first endeavor would be an impressive remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, entitled LET ME IN, and would find their greatest success in the incredibly creepy adaptation of THE WOMAN IN BLACK.
Unfortunately, Hammer Films most recent endeavor THE QUIET ONES was criminally dismissed by the horror crowd, labeled unoriginal and uninspired by critics. Where THE QUIET ONES lacks originality, it more than makes up in writing; in fact, being scary feels almost secondary to providing a genuinely creepy yarn with complex characters.
This doesn’t mean that THE QUIET ONES lacks fright; though jump scare is in full effect, the film exerts a remarkable patience in setting up dread and executing some truly intense scares throughout. What it does mean is the scares are often not there for horror’s sake, but because they organically arise from the narrative. In a way, the frights reflects the nature of the film’s terror as little sparks of negative energy threaten to ignite a larger threat.
THE QUIET ONES, which is loosely inspired by real experiments conducted in the ‘50s and ‘60s, follows a scientific research team that seek to prove the existence of the supernatural as a manifestation of negative energy, which can be contained and controlled. With the promise of curing mental illness, the team—comprised of a determined professor, a sympathetic cameraman, an afflicted young woman and two enthusiastic yet eccentric aides—takes their controversial methods to a remote location. As you might guess, the negative energy feeds on the claustrophobic, intense environment, and revelations are made which change everything they know about one another and of evil.
THE QUIET ONES is evocative of many classic horror films, and even at times apes atmospheric scares from Hammer’s own THE WOMAN IN BLACK. But THE QUIET ONES offers something else classic horror films are known for: well-written, motivated characters, each with their own schemes, jealousies and obsessions. While the scares can often times be environmental or ominous, those conducting the experiments all have their doubts and facades, which makes them much more realistic. And when the third act dawns, the twists in the narrative come from the characters and not only are logical to the story, but they also set the stage for a frightening (albeit somewhat underwhelming) climax.
It’s also a bit of a surprise that THE QUIET ONES, despite its box office, has an impressive Blu-ray set. Aside from an excellent high-definition transfer and a respectable yet bombastic sound mix, THE QUIET ONES has a slew of extras that are worth your time. For those interested in the behind-the-scenes of the film, THE QUIET ONES comes with a 30+ minute documentary featurette which chronicles its genesis, execution and several anecdotes along the way. The documentary most fascinatingly gives insight into Jared Harris’ contributions, which includes his collaboration in the rewriting of his character, as well as Sam Claflin’s contributions with camerawork in select scenes to add authenticity to his role.
THE QUIET ONES also comes with a rather middling but informative commentary track from director John Pogue and producer Tobin Armbrust. It’s rather skippable as the good behind-the-scenes bits are either covered in the documentary or are too few and far between to justify a 90-minute listen. The Blu-ray also comes with some deleted scenes, which further provide context to the situations and the dynamics of certain characters, especially Sam Claflin’s ‘Brian’ and Erin Richards’ ‘Krissy.’ The set also comes with a great Outtake reel, including a foul-mouthed Harris and a particularly hysterical moment where a cast member is scared by the announcement of a drifting boom microphone.
Although somewhat derivative of classic horror tropes, THE QUIET ONES has enough scares and atmospheric dread to effectively earn its spot within the genre while providing a story much better than is expected. And with a slew of well-produced extras, THE QUIET ONES is a disc worthy of any Hammer fans collection.