The Quiet Ones

Purge Anarchy

Horror films live and die by their scores because the music is what helps drive the story and makes us feel anxious. While the images get stuck in the front of our brains, hearing tracks like John Williams‘ theme for Jaws immediately takes us back to the fearful place the film conjured up when we first watched it. In the spirit of the season, I looked back over the horror scores released this year to see which delivered the most frightening music and soundscapes, and discovered a recurring, synth-y theme. First, a little history.

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TIE ME UP discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Criterion) Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was a massive cross-Atlantic hit in the early 1990s, helping to launch the global career of Antonio Banderas. Following an obsessive but charming former mental patient (Banderas)  as he captures a porn star (Victor Abril) so that she learns to fall in love with him, the dark comedy was the import of the season on summer movie screens 24 years ago, accompanyingWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown as the one-two punch that made Almodovar an arthouse fixture. While Almodovar has gone through various stylistic phases since, Tie Me Up remains a prime example of his unique propensity for comic chaos that plunges unabashedly into the trenches of sexual id. The film’s success can be credited in part to its massive controversy: its sexual content threatened its US release with an X rating, which began a lawsuit that resulted in the creation of the NC-17 rating. The story behind the film is thus as much a part of it as the film itself, and Criterion justly adorns this set with a collection of new special features that illustrate how the film changed the career of those in front of and behind the camera, with Almodovar thankfully present across all of them. Hopefully this first release of Almodovar’s work promises many Criterion treatments of the Spanish auteur to come. […]

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The Quiet Ones

It’s supposed to be the furthest thing away from science. The supernatural is meant to go unexplained, ghosts, spirits and demons appearing in mirrors and around dark corners in decrepit houses when the witching hour occurs. And for the most part, we’re content to keep it that way; why go sticking our very vulnerable human necks where they don’t belong when countless pieces of folklore and works of film have told us exactly what happens to the curious?

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The Quiet Ones review

Perhaps the most terrifying thing about The Quiet Ones is how blatantly the Hammer horror film rips off other, better features – in fact, for long stretches during its muddled and flat middle act, it’s nearly impossible to not wish that you were watching The Conjuring, a recent outing that does everything that The Quiet Ones wants to do with all the style and flair lacking from the latter production – with little regard for possible repercussions. That kind of recklessness is chilling on its own, that lack of care and originality, the kind that will likely be ripped to shreds by plenty of audience members and critics alike. The Quiet Ones just isn’t original, at least, it’s not original until it tries to be (really tries!) far too late in the feature, when it suddenly slaps on a series of revelations that sound cool and weird and scary in theory, but make zero sense in practice. The John Pogue feature actually does have a creepy and interesting premise to drive it – as long as you don’t immediately exit the theater once you see the words “inspired by actual events” pop up on the big screen – but that material is ultimately abandoned in service to a story that attempts to scan as chilling and twisted and shocking, but only comes across as derivative and dumb.

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The Quiet Ones

The worst part about any horror film is the caveat “based on true events.” Because…how much is based on true events? Are there spooky, spooky ghosts everywhere that we need to be worried about? Or in the case of The Quiet Ones, is this a terrible campus legend that has been passed down since the 1970’s and has gotten out of control for our viewing pleasure? Regardless, John Pogue‘s film is based on the story of the world’s worst professor (Jared Harris, Mad Men), a man who decides to use his brightest pupils in an experiment to conjur up spirits. Has he ever cracked open a book about the paranormal or you know, lived in the world? Rule number one for being a smart person: don’t mess with the dead because you’ll get Paranormal Activity‘d. Obviously, when the experiment works and the whole class is being followed around by homicidal poltergeists, they realize they’re in over their heads and (I’m guessing here) must figure out a way to contain the madness before it consumes them. The trailer is full of the usual haunted house and poltergeist-type tropes: beautiful, dark buildings with heavy creaking doors (that open themselves), grainy slide footage of old-timey children (they’re dead now), a grown woman holding a baby doll and shadowy figures that pass in front of the camera. They did it! They made a spirit! Check out the trailer here:

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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