As contemporary horror continues to palpably flounder amid its obvious inspirations, along comes The Quiet Ones to reinforce said stigma. Focusing on the archetypal, supernaturally-obsessed Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) and his ragtag trio of understudies, the group remains steadfast in their intentions to “cure” young Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) and rid her of a presumed psychological hiccup. Soon forced to relocate their experiment to the desolate English countryside, the newly-ominous setting conveniently lends itself to Jane’s increasingly malevolent, moreover mysterious behavior.
Beginning in the only manner I can conjure up at the moment, The Quiet Ones glaringly suffers at the hands of its rote preliminary exposition. Dragging his naivety-stricken puppets through the proverbial muck and mire, Professor Coupland’s efforts can immediately be explained away by a typical obsession with his subject, a proclivity for slinging around educative bits of psychological jargon ringing more bothersome than not.
Once said groundwork’s been laid, the film employs an all-too-familiar slow burn in an agreeably effective attempt to build tension. Capitalizing on this sole strength, Pogue’s direction relies a bit too heavily on unwavering close-ups of Jane’s sweaty brow as she glares intently at nothing in particular, all the while irking a spirit more interested in human suffering than scientific advancement. As guttural screams, loud bangs and unpredictable patterns in Jane’s behavior prompt more eye rolls than chills, The Quiet Ones unashamedly proceeds to cycle through every theory in the figurative Ghost Story Handbook, of which range from telekinetic projection and demonic possession to “Shit’s just pure evil, you guys.”
Remaining exhaustive as the central characters’ stupidity trumps the film’s already sparse air of subjective intelligence, The Quiet Ones is literally nothing more than rote genre fare. In all seriousness, the bulk of the proceedings would lend themselves better to a highlight reel – one that wades through all of the wooden, pseudo-sympathetic humanist bullshit to capitalize on the little tension established throughout. When you get down to brass tacks, The Quiet Ones‘s genre-centric elements – while periodically effective – are overshadowed by said silliness as everyone’s erratic desires to sleep with one another amid certain death further tarnish a starkly ordinary narrative.