For many, the real Hammer Films died in 1976 with To The Devil A Daughter. One final film, The Lady Vanishes, was released in 1979, ultimately driving the company into bankruptcy. Following two television series in the 1980s, Hammer silently disappeared. That is until 2008 when Hammer rose from the dead with Beyond The Rave. Truthfully, this wasn’t really the same Hammer Films but this new company does respect its’ past. Admittedly, they have one of the coolest movie logos around besides Marvel. Whether or not this new Hammer holds a candle to the past seems to be an ongoing debate.
Personally, I’ve never seen Beyond The Rave and don’t seem really inclined to track it down, mostly due to lackluster reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed Let Me In (2010), despite it being a totally unnecessary English remake of Let The Right One In (2008). The Resident (2011) was salvaged only by the presence of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a cameo by Christopher Lee. It isn’t horrible but far from being a classic. Wake Wood (2011) was good and even had the feel of some true Hammer Films. Now, The Woman in Black (2012) got mixed reviews but I really liked it. It had a great gothic setting that gave it an eerie atmospheric touch. The weakest part of that film would be its reliance on jump scares. Now, two years later, Hammer returns with The Quiet Ones.
The year is 1974 and the setting is Oxford University. Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is conducting an experiment to prove there is no such thing as the supernatural. With two assistant students, they are studying a young girl named Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke, Ouija). Jane is disturbed and has been abandoned by the system. Strange occurrences follow Jane as she talks about someone named “Evey”.
The experimentation, which includes loud music to prevent Jane from sleeping and to push her beyond her mental limits, is bordering on inhumane. When the professor hires a photographer, Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), the experiment begins to escalate. The students see that “Evey” is a real force to be reckoned with but the professor refuses to stop. How far will the professor push Jane and what will the consequences be when the truth is revealed?
I really wanted to like The Quiet Ones. It generated a creepy atmosphere and the countryside setting enhanced the feeling of isolation and evil permeating through the film. However, the photography plot device comes across feeling like a 1970s version of shaky cam, which really ruined the film for me. I have long since grown weary of the found footage films, viewing them as a cheap way to crank out a film without having to worry about plot or photography or even good acting. Sure, there are exceptions but those are exceptions to the rule. Now, The Quiet Ones never quite devolved into those stereotypes but it had its moments.
I couldn’t watch this film without thinking about The Stone Tape, a superior 1972 made-for-BBC TV film about a research team investigating a haunted Victorian mansion. Personally, I think that “ancient” flick from so long ago achieved more with its limited budget and it is well worth checking out.
The Quiet Ones does stand out above so many other disappointing modern horror films but it doesn’t necessarily show that this new Hammer is releasing guaranteed hits either. Take the time to rent it and you won’t be too disappointed as long as you go in with lower expectations. A better marketing campaign and a bit more time spent on production and The Quiet Ones may have been more successful. The trailer sets things up nicely so you can judge for yourself.