Saturday, June 10, 2017

That Time When Moriarity Fought a Ghost, or Thoughts on The Quiet Ones

From the legendary Hammer Film Productions, The Quiet Ones (2014) featured Jared Harris as Professor Coupland, a tweedy Oxford parapsychologist who conducted a series of quasi-legal experiments to disprove the supernatural, essentially by abusing his patients like he's Richard Burton in Exorcist II (1977).  It’s all captured on film by one of his students, though the narrative tries to have it both ways by incorporating lots of jump scares from the POV footage while still telling a traditional ghost story.
Olivia Cooke, who you and I know as Emma from Bates Motel is Jane, the demonic/poltergeist/telekinetic all around possessed girl that Professor Coupland insists is merely schizophrenic, while Welsh actor Erin Richards, Barbara Kean from Gotham, is Kristina, one of the Professor’s true believers.   There are lots of luxe Downton Abbey-esque scenes of Oxford before moving to an isolated country manor where the fun begins.
Director John Pogue of Ghost Ship (2002) and Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011) set the movie 1974, which is mostly portrayed by having the characters chain smoke and wear cozy English sweaters.  This is in reference to the actual Toronto parapsychology experiment the movie is based on, but it’s also a nice nod to Hammer Films, which released Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires that same year.
Hammer Films has struggled to find a modern audience which is regrettable because they dominated the 60’s and 70’s with their signature look and core actors, including Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt and Barbara Steele.   For viewers it’s good news because there’s a glut of horror content available right now, but it also means subtle, quiet movies (no pun intended, but do you see what I did there) will be lost amidst all the CGI dragons and 3D zombies.

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