Depending on your viewpoint, the horror film "The Quiet Ones" is either about a 1970s band of fearless experimenters (led by Jared Harris) who come face to face with paranormal evil, or about a mentally ill foster child (Olivia Cooke) held in captivity by cruel, smirking researchers in the English countryside.
Mostly, though, it's a junky, unscary genre piece with a misleading title, because director and co-writer John Pogue jacks up the decibels so often to manufacture frights that you fear a punctured eardrum more than anything else.
Harris, as the Vincent Price in this offering from the revived Hammer production company, brings an enjoyably arch brio as the ethically questionable, vain Oxford professor overseeing it all. In every other way, however, it's a dull, hokey washout. Is anyone scared anymore by a sunken-eyed girl in a nightdress with a doll?
Especially regrettable is the ruining of a perfectly fine visual notion: re-creating the luridly grainy cinematography of those famous Hammer films ("Dracula: Prince of Darkness," "The Gorgon," "The Plague of the Zombies"), adding the in-camera, found-footage vogue gimmick of a student (Sam Claflin) recording it all on 16 millimeter. Evidently, a budding filmmaker in 1974 is already hip to 21st century shaky-cam techniques.
"The Quiet Ones."
MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense violence and terror, sexual content, thematic material, language and smoking.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.
Playing: In wide release.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times