I told you guys I would be watching more horror movies, a genre I have long since avoided. Mostly because the films haven’t interested me. Partially because of nostalgia for my golden age of Horror. So marking the second theatrical review for me of this genre is the Possession Horror – The Quiet Ones.
As it seems to be, from what I can tell in the trailers, films like this are set as a period piece. They are also nearly always (it seems) based on “actual events”. Commence eye rolling. The original screenplay was by Tom deVille, who has only a few TV episodes and a short to his credit prior. Then, there are three writers credits over his. Craig Rosenberg (After the Sunset), Oren Moverman (The Messenger, I’m Not There), and John Pogue (US Marshalls, Rollerball (2002), Ghost Ship). Three writers credits and once again the rule holds true. You can see all the different hands in the film and that at no point they agreed on how the story should go. Is it science? Is it supernatural? What are the rules? Are there rules?
Pogue, was also the director and that may also be the problem. Ok, its not a problem in that he is able to receive elevated performances from all of his actors. Actors who mostly aren’t known, but even Jared Harris shows an interesting range of emotions and mental states as the film progresses. Some credit must go to the director. Blame for the movies pacing also goes to the director. One should not be watching a movie and look to their viewing partner and go “what time is it?”. I was trying to figure out how long I was watching it and how much longer it would go. But Jess, it’s a slow burn film. Slow burn implies things happen. It implies that the film is building tension. It implies that at the end of it there will be a climax worth having a reaction to. A reaction that isn’t “what the heck were you thinking?” This had none of that, its simply flat.
That isn’t to say I don’t care about the characters. Sam Claflin (Finnick from Hunger Games) and Olivia Cook (Bates Motel) are actually the best thing this movie has going for it. At times I thought Claflin was Nicholas Hoult with his wide eyed expressions, but I cared what happened to him. I cared about his emotional state and actually respected the haracter he was playing, because of his performance. Cook, looking fantastic with black hair, reminded me of Eva Green in how she moves her mouth and the slight facial tics she affected through the film. Her range is actually quite something. I would look forward to seeing other work for her so she can progress as an actress. The ability to flip your emotions, and be believable, like a lightswitch should not be discounted.
That being said, even good acting cannot save a movie that fails at the most primal aspect of a horror movie. Tension. I felt none. The final act of the movie came closest and was most intriguing. I have a little bias to it, but thats another story. I just wish they had taken another route. Yes, it was loosely based on an actual experiment from Toronto in the ealy 1970s. Paranormal experimentation in the 70’s is about as trustworthy as a politician trying to win an election. On top of that the “based on” conceit is all but utter garbage unless there’s actual evidence from the event. That means they could have gone even further with this and didn’t.
If you are a horror junkie, go ahead and see Quiet Ones. Otherwise I found this a good place to take a nap for an hour and fourty minutes.
That may be my shortest TL;DR ever. Anyway, next week we begin the summer blockbuster season (and pretty much more reviews from me than I can shake a stick at) with Spider Man 2.
Complete aside – if I were to hold a contest for a pair of movie tickets, would you fine folks be interested?