The Quiet Ones (2014) ★½

The found footage element in this film is completely distracting and unnecessary, and is alone responsible for dragging the rating down below two stars. It’s the 1970’s and a cameraman is recording the experiments of a psychology professor trying to cure a woman who believes she is possessed. He uses hands instead of a clapboard to mark the beginning of each scene, but nowhere EVER does the film show anyone recording the sound. And if that weren’t bad enough, the characters are somehow able to watch the footage immediately after it’s recorded, complete with digital sound. Come on. Just because your target audience wasn’t alive when this film takes place, that’s no excuse to play fast and loose. I realize film is dead, but do we have to piss on its corpse already?

I can handle found footage films with crystal-clear, booming audio that sounds like it was recorded at Skywalker Ranch because…whatever…they are not really trying to pull the wool over my eyes; I mean, do you want to hear what is going on, or do you want cinema-verite that sounds like the inside of a seashell? But this is just willful ignorance, and the dishonesty of it speaks to the film’s approach as a mere gimmick to lure in unsuspecting, and unknowing audiences.

Remove this aspect of the film and The Quiet Ones has a halfway decent idea going for it, trapping a group of experimenters up in a spooky old English mansion with a woman who might be possessed by an evil spirit. It has sexual tension (of the PG-13 variety), creepy seances, a beautiful production design, a sinister score, and Jared Harris, an actor who I am now convinced must always remain a supporting character because he just can’t handle the weight of an entire picture.

The newly reformed Hammer Film Productions really went out of its way to craft a spooky ghost story. It’s too bad they didn’t follow in the footsteps of their previous, recent successes withThe Woman In Black and Let Me In. Instead they chose an inexperienced director (Quarantine 2 anyone?) who is far more interested in aping films like The Conjuring and Paranormal Activity in order to hear the cha-ching at the box office. But from what I’m hearing it is a flop, and deservedly so. Ironically, the one area where it successfully mimics The Conjuring is its turnout being a direct reflection of its qualify.

The Verdict: Pan