By this point, you pay to see The Quiet Ones and sort of know it’s going to be the fifty-seventh by-the-numbers possession film you’ve seen within the past decade. You get a vibe that the film is riding off the success of other, more successful horror films and a lot of the scares will be abiding by the rules of “gotcha” spooks.
The Quiet Ones reminded me of movies like The Conjuring and The Devil Inside, but as a film critic and someone who sees an ebb and flow with the horror genre and it’s financial strategies, my memory leapt to Todd Lincoln’s The Apparition.
Let me bring you up to speed about Lincoln’s deflated flick. The Apparition was a Paranormal Activity copycat. It was dumped into theatres, became a box office bomb, and was never spoke about again. I caught it on DVD and interpreted it as a project that had been ripped away from the director. There was a ton of potential with some really creepy scenes (most notably a moment where the lead beau is forced to watch his babe suffocate under bedsheets), but too much of the film lazily lifted from those static scenes in a Paranormal Activity film where the audience waits for something to go “clang” or “smash”.
I don’t know if The Quiet Ones was savagely torn away from filmmaker director/co-writer John Pogue, but I do see it as a film where meddling producers wanted to cash in on The Conjuring’s gold. According to the Internet Movie Database, The Quiet Ones was filmed in 2012, held onto for a couple of years, and was released in 2014. To say that attached studios used the movie as a pawn in a financial affair would suggest a conspiracy theory. But when The Quiet Ones (an exorcism-esque film set in the 70’s and inspired by true events) is released as The Conjuring’s love is dying down, one starts to wonder.
I find myself sticking up for The Quiet Ones in the same way I defended Lincoln’s The Apparition. Pogue’s movie isn’t great, but it shouldn’t be written off altogether. The film is freaky with plenty of effective jump scares. They may be the cheapest way to get an anxious reaction from movie goers, but Pogue pulls them off well.
I also found myself attached to the struggles the characters found themselves in. The story involves a small group of students led by a blowhard professor. They conduct experiments on a spiritually overrun woman named Jane. The students – while intrigued for results – start questioning how far is “too far”. A hired hand who is told to film the procedures starts to have an attraction to Jane, and also questions the morality of the experiment. The puppy love and the videographer’s sympathy towards Jane are both unconditionally believable.
The Quiet Ones will be seen as a rip-off or a cash grab by those who don’t take a chance on it. I do incline that those skeptics check out John Pogue’s film sometime. They may be as pleasantly surprised and creeped out as I was.