The film takes place at Oxford during the early 70’s and promptly ditches whatever potential atmosphere it could wring from that setting, content instead to merely showcase a few bad wardrobe decisions and implement faux Super 16 footage for no real reason. In fact, the decision to constantly oscillate between a traditionally shot film and the found footage aesthetic is endemic of this film’s identity crisis. It wants to be the Buzzfeed version of a slow burn supernatural thriller and as a result is neither kinetic or frightening.
Instead, it redefines the very core of what we as a society know about lurching narratives. The Quiet Ones is all second act. You’d think an abundance of scare scenes would be a good thing, but when they utterly fail to move the plot along or change any of the characters involved you’re left with a movie begging for attention in the most off-putting of ways. This is exacerbated by the fact that every single one of these scenes is followed by a maddening refutation from Jared Harris’ Professor Coupland that anything wrong or supernatural is afoot. Harris is actually good in this movie and I’d like to imagine he made a delightful wager with himself in regard to how many variations of “there’s nothing wrong here – we have to keep going” he could come up with.
These are the kind of films that make me fear for the horror genre. There are several credited writers on this project, and I would bet good money that any one of their standalone drafts are better than what was cobbled together here. But that would make a movie and The Quiet Ones isn’t a movie. It’s a mixtape of executive notes. A mixtape that manages to be not only bad, but boring as well – so much so that its 98 minutes seem to stretch the continuum of space and time. In the sense that it can make a better 3 hour movie appear brief by comparison, this film succeeds only in proving the theory of relativity.
If you’re going to make trash, at least make it awesome like Nurse 3D.