The Quiet Ones' retro blend of Carrie and The Conjuring mostly misses the mark
Starring Olivia Cooke, Jared Harris, and Sam Claflin. Rated 14A. Now playing.
In the opening scene of The Quiet Ones a deeply disturbed young woman gets purposely awakened by a loud blast of "Cum on Feel the Noize", the 1973 hit by British glam-rockers Slade. After all these years that tune still sounds killer, but considering the film's subject matter, the band's previous "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" would have been more apt.
Set in 1974, the film focuses on the work of eccentric Oxford prof. Joseph Coupland (Mad Men's Jared Harris), who's conducting parapsychological experiments on a mental patient named Jane (the Christina Ricci-looking Olivia Cooke). Coupland—who's prone to making wacky statements like "If we can cure one patient, we cure all mankind"—is being assisted by students/lovers Krissy and Harry (Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne) until he also recruits hunky AV specialist Brian (The Hunger Games' Sam Claflin) to document every damn thing on a clunky 16mm camera. We're talkin' some old-school shaky-cam action here folks.
When Brian joins the others at Oxford he's immediately taken with Jane, who's quite fetching underneath all that demonic possession or whatever the hell it is. "Did you expect my head to twist off?", she asks when first meeting his wide-eyed gaze.
After seeing Jane naked Brian's personal interest in her starts to build, although he's cautioned by Coupland about getting too involved. "She's aware of your feelings for her," he warns, "which could be dangerous—to you."
After one too many blastings of "Cum On Feel the Noize", noise complaints lead to the university's withdrawal of funding, so the research team moves its subject to a remote country manor, where the paranormal activity gets ramped up to match the spooky surroundings.
Jane's head doesn't twist off, but she does spew—then swallow—a long, writhing, brownish-red tentacle thingie. "What did we think it was?," quizzes the chainsmoking Prof. "Some freaky Exorcist shit!," replies Harry.
Throughout the film grainy footage of Coupland's previous experiments on a 12-year-old boy is shown, reinforcing similarities to recent supernatural-horror outings like The Conjuring and Insidious. Its retro melding of those flicks with a heavy dose of Carrie-style telekinetic mayhem doesn't result in anything particularly memorable though.
Apart from the Slade, that is.