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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
The Quiet Ones  (2014)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: August 19, 2014) - Don't let the title fool you; "The Quiet Ones" is joltingly loud, few scenes passing by that aren't punctuated by falling light fixtures or creepy, kooky faces popping up to startle the characters—and viewers. Jump scares can be awfully hokey, especially when they are of the false variety or too numerous to bother counting. These sorts of ploys, particularly when ineffective and poorly carried out, signal a filmmaker's desperation. Writer-director John Pogue (screenwriter of 2002's "Ghost Ship") flirts with overdoing them, to be sure, but there is no denying that he is fairly astute at delivering the seat-pouncing goods. What his and co-writers Craig Rosenberg (2009's "The Uninvited") and Oren Moverman's (2011's "Rampart") screenplay lacks in enduring substance, the picture makes up for in sophistication and methodic engagement.

Jared Harris (2014's "Pompeii") is captivating as Joseph Coupland, an Oxford University professor who, in 1974, recruits three students—cameraman Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin) and assistants Krissi Dalton (Erin Richards) and Harry Abrams (Rory Fleck-Byrne)—to assist him with an experiment to disprove the existence of supernatural phenomena. Accompanying him to an abandoned house in the English countryside, they set about working with test subject Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke), a disturbed young woman whom Joseph believes has manifested a self-made spirit through her doll Evey. Joseph's goal is to substantiate Jane's mental illness, just as he tried to do years earlier with a similarly plagued patient named David. The longer the group works with this girl, however, the more Brian becomes convinced that all of them, Jane included, are in mortal danger from an entity that is not of this world.

"The Quiet Ones" is handsomely photographed by Mátyás Erdély, a moody blend of overcast skies and 1970s aesthetics. Director John Pogue draws his audience in immediately with a skillfully, eerily suggestive opening credits sequence, and then wastes no time in introducing his central ensemble of five. The movie presents itself at the onset as an eloquent slow burn, but then averts these expectations. Whether in Jane's mind or not, the building unexplained events aim to throttle viewers whenever they least expect it. Olivia Cooke (A&E's "Bates Motel") is riveting as the vulnerable, suicidal, possibly possessed Jane, the enigmatic figure circled by dark forces both internal and external. "The Quiet Ones"—loosely based on a real-life 1972 parapsychology study known as the Philip Experiment—doesn't add up to as much as one hopes in the third act, particularly as it pertains to Joseph and his collapsing hypotheses. Nevertheless, there is a lot to admire as the film embraces a pleasing brand of old-school chills over modern-day, pop-culture hipness.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Shot digitally with the Arri Alexa camera, the darkly atmospheric "The Quiet Ones" receives a superb 1080p transfer that, without exception, appears true to source. As expected, the more shadowy moments have less detail than the outdoor daytime scenes, but in its place are rich, inky blacks and no detectable banding whatsoever. Clarity and resolve are top-notch no matter what the lighting situations is at any given moment. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio will have most viewers crouching behind their chairs and couches and most of their pets bolting to the opposite end of their house. While dialogue is clean and clear, the volume of the sound effects and stingers have been cranked up to 11, overwhelming the home theater soundscape. Might this lossless mix be a little bit overkill? Maybe. But it sure makes the audio track an effectively immersive one.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with director/co-writer John Pogue and producer Tobin Armbrust
  • "Welcome to the Experiment: Making The Quiet Ones" Featurette (34:53, HD)
  • "An Ominous Opening" Featurette (8:24, HD)
  • Deleted Scenes (12:16, HD)
  • Outtakes (3:29, HD)
Bottom Line
"The Quiet Ones" isn't exactly quiet, but it theatrically opened that way in April 2014, earning only $8.5 million stateside. Was the problem the uneventful title, the reserved marketing campaign, an oversaturation of supernatural horror projects, or all of the above? Regardless, the film—imperfect but well-made—should find a more receptive audience in home video markets. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of "The Quiet Ones" is the way to go, delivering an excellent A/V package and a collection of quality bonus content. Recommended.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman