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John Pogue
Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Olivia Cooke
Writing Credits:
Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman and John Pogue

A Shocking Experiment - An Unspeakable Evil

A university professor and a team of students conduct an experiment on a young woman, uncovering terrifyingly dark, unexpected forces in the process.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3,880,053 on 2,027 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/19/2014

• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer John Pogue and Producer Tobin Armburst
• “Welcome to the Experiment” Documentary
• “An Ominous Opening” Featurette
• Seven Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Quiet Ones [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2014)

When I see the term “inspired by actual events” attached to a movie, I become suspicious. “Inspired” presents a step down from “based on true events”, itself a phrase already without much basis in reality; a movie “based on” facts can still stretch matters quite a long way. “Inspired by” goes even farther and leaves me with the belief that the “inspiration” will be tangential at best.

Still, movies don’t need to be “real” to be good, so even though the “inspired by” tag on the cover of 2014’s The Quiet Ones activated some concern, I decided to give the horror thriller a look. Set at Oxford University circa 1974, we meet Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris), a professor who specializes in attempts to explain the supernatural.

Along with two others, Professor Coupland recruits Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin) to document an experiment. Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) has been regarded as “possessed” by some and Coupland seeks to use his work with her to find an ultimate cure for mental illness. The reality becomes less simple – and more fraught with terror – than Brian anticipated.

Maybe I’m just too old for horror movies. I think the genre works best for younger viewers because these films tend to come with a limited bag of tricks; once you’ve seen them, they can become predictable. Of course, the genre does occasionally find ways to expand – such as with the “found footage” concept – and good filmmakers manage to create chilling material despite the limitations involved, but I still find it more and more difficult to invest in modern-day terror.

If anyone expects Quiet Ones to surpass the usual 21st century horror experience, disappointment will result. That said, I don’t think it offers a bad piece of work in terms of its genre-mates. While its uses many of the typical methods like out of nowhere “boo moments” and over-the-top creepy music, it keeps them a bit more subdued than others might.

Harris brings some class to the material as well. Sure, he occasionally feels like a character from a Harry Potter film, but he adds more depth to the role than it probably deserves and helps create a decent twist on the “mad scientist” part.

Other than that, Quiet Ones lacks a lot to make it shine. The movie fails to deliver much real suspense and relies too much on both red herrings and shock scares. The more I watch horror, the more tired I become of the latter – those moments where something occurs out of the blue with little purpose other than to startle. I don’t regard those “scares” as horror; they’re cheap and easy techniques featured in place of genuine terror.

Maybe I’d mind those less if they ever came without the usual loud musical cues. If the “boo moments” lacked the inevitable oppressive score, they might work better, but the filmmakers don’t appear to have the self-confidence to provide scary elements on their own. I know audio plays an important role in movies, but sometimes less is more; too many horror movies rely on loud sounds to do the work for them, and it gets tiresome.

Quiet Ones does manage some suspense based on its premise. Usually films of this sort make their supernatural side literal, whereas this movie leaves us guessing to a reasonable degree. Is Jane a disturbed woman who needs help or is Coupland a deluded nutbag? The story keeps the truth up in the air.

For a little while, that is. The movie’s take on the subject seems clear before too long, so any attempts at subtlety/subterfuge lack much substance. Quiet Ones invests in its questions enough to create the illusion of a mystery but it feels like lip service.

Again, as far as movies of this sort go, Quiet Ones seems decent. It offers a professional affair with occasional moments of interest. The film simply relies too much on predictable cinematic techniques and lacks a lot to make it special.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Quiet Ones appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image seemed strong.

Overall definition seemed good, with only a little softness along the way. Any instances of softness stayed minor and created no real distractions. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws remained absent – at least in terms of “real” print flaws. The fake “archival footage” came with specks and marks, but because those were intentional, I didn’t count them against the transfer.

As one might expect, the film opted for a stylized palette and tended toward a golden impression or teal. Within those choices, the colors appeared positive. Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows showed appropriate delineation. I felt pleased with the transfer

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack came with a fair amount of sonic pizzazz. Scare scenes added some spark and atmosphere contributed some involving material. These gave the mix chances for active use of the five speakers and it created a broad, engaging spectrum.

One complaint: the decision to continue with the standard 5.1 sound design even when the movie offered “archival footage”. As mentioned earlier, the film occasionally provided material supposedly shot by the characters; to “age” these shots, they came with a degraded quality.

That made sense, but the choice to provide multichannel audio along with the “archival footage” didn’t. It seemed confusing to get sound from the sides/rears during the bits supposedly shot by the movie’s characters. In fact, the first time this happened, I thought the audio intended to reflect the screening room in which the characters watched their work; it took me a minute to realize the sound encompassed the actual on-screen material. The soundtrack would’ve worked better and made more sense if it’d gone mono during those moments.

Audio quality was solid. Effects came across as accurate and concise, and speech seemed natural and crisp. Music was lush and full as well. Despite my dissatisfaction with some sound design choices, this was usually a good mix.

Despite the film’s low profile, The Quiet Ones comes with a pretty good set of extras. These launch with an audio commentary from director/co-writer John Pogue and producer Tobin Armburst. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cinematography and audio, visual design, costumes and period details, cast and performances, story/character areas, and connected subjects.

Overall, this becomes a satisfying commentary. I would like information about the real-life case that inspired the story, but the track covers other bases in a pleasing manner. The participants interact well and turn this into an informative chat.

Next comes a documentary called Welcome to the Experiment. In this 34-minute, 53-second piece, we hear from Pogue, Armnbrust, producers Ben Holden and Simon Oakes, screenwriter Tom DeVille, director of photography Matyas Erdely, production designer Matthew Gant, and actors Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne and Olivia Cooke.

We learn about the movie’s origins and development, the story behind the tale and script/character areas, cast and performances, genres and cinematic styles, sets and locations, production design and period details, sound and music, effects and related topics. “Welcome” can be a little fluffy but it covers a good array of subjects. It acts as a nice complement to the commentary and provides a mix of useful details across its running time.

The eight-minute, 24-second An Ominous Opening offers notes from Pogue and main title designer Aaron Becker. The featurette looks at aspect of the movie’s title sequence. “Ominous” gets into the credit segment in an involving manner.

Seven Deleted Scenes go for 12 minutes, 16 seconds. In these, we tend toward moments with secondary characters as well as some expository bits. Some of the latter actually prove to be fairly valuable, as they fill in some dots left unclear by the feature film. The others tend to feel more superfluous, such as when we learn about Coupland’s background; this seems moderately interesting but not especially important.

We also find three minutes, 29 seconds of Outtakes. This reel shows standard blooper reel material, with plenty of goofs and giggles. Nothing especially enjoyable evolves.

The disc opens with ads for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Divergent, The Possession and Now You See Me. No trailer for Quiet Ones appears here.

While not a bad horror film, The Quiet Ones seems too “by the numbers” to become better than average. It delivers occasional effective moments but relies on too many genre tropes to take flight. The Blu-ray comes with positive picture and audio as well as a mostly good selection of bonus materials. Expect a pretty average horror movie here.

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