The Not-So-Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones is still playing in theaters.

The Quiet Ones

 

The Quiet OnesĀ (2014) – Rated PG-13

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

The old Hammer was my favorite movie studio growing up. Quatermass and the Pit and The Gorgon are my two favorite Hammer movies. Their horror catalog was impressive, even if they did continually recycle their big guns. More than a half dozen each of Dracula and Frankenstein movies as well as several Karnstein and Mummy films were made before Hammer died in the mid-1970s.

The modern iteration of Hammer is doing a lot to maintain a higher level of quality than average for horror movies. The Resident was a bit of a letdown, although it was nice to see Christopher Lee back in horror. Wake Wood and The Woman in Black were entertaining albeit flawed. Let Me In was the rare remake that was better than the original.

Their latest effort, The Quiet Ones, sadly bills itself as based on a true story. That is usually a sign that I’m not going to enjoy it. It stars Jared Harris, an excellent character actor who deserves more starring roles. He is quite good here though even he can’t rescue some rather bizarre directorial choices.

The story itself is rather boring and bland, two words commonly associated with the ‘based on a true story’ moniker. Is the woman faking it? Is she telekinetic? Is she possessed? Is there some other explanation for the (very minor) events occurring?

Unfortunately, director John Pogue chooses to spice things up with jump scares that were old when slashers were young. Constantly not knowing when the movie is going to suddenly increase in volume for no purpose is initially annoying and raises to grating after about a half dozen of these cheap boos.

The Quiet Ones isn’t bad and Jared Harris is much better than the material, it just isn’t good either.

Hammer’s next endeavor is called Gaslight and the premise sounds intriguing: “Secretly imprisoned in a London insane asylum, the infamous Jack the Ripper helps Scotland Yard investigators solve a series of grisly murders whose victims all share one thing in common: dual puncture wounds to the neck.”

This will be followed by a sequel to The Woman in Black entitled The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.

A Tale of Two Hacks – Pompeii

I took a mental health day to clear my head and went to the movies. Unfortunately I had seen most of what was showing so off to Pompeii.

 

Pompeii

 

PompeiiĀ (2014) – Rated PG-13

A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.

One Line Review: Jon Snow should have waited for winter.

I hardly know where to begin with Pompeii. I was very fortunate to have visited Pompeii some years ago and the ruins are absolutely fascinating. In this movie, and others depicting this event, Mt. Vesuvius is shown dramatically towering in the background. When I was there, you could barely see Mt. Vesuvius in the distance so it is no wonder that people weren’t alarmed by the early stages.

Although director Paul W.S. Anderson claims a rather lavish reconstruction of the city, Pompeii had no such harbor as depicted in the movie. Nearby Herculaneum (also destroyed) was the harbor city though I guess it doesn’t have the name recognition. Women in Pompeii, particularly Aurelia and Cassia, are portrayed ahistorically, as viewed through modern sensibilities.

Paul W.S. Anderson has a flair for visuals, particularly special effects. Mortal Kombat was a fun albeit dumb movie. Event Horizon was a fun but dumb movie. Resident Evil was a fun but dumb movie. Unfortunately as he is given higher and higher budgets, the special effects go up but the fun goes down.

Two of the three scriptwriters, Janet Scott Batchler and Lee Batchler, are best known for the execrable Batman Forever. I’m not kidding. They also haven’t made a movie in a decade. The third writer, Michael Robert Johnson, was one of four credited writers on Sherlock Holmes (2009) but that is his only other credit.

The writing on Pompeii is just awful. Jared Harris looks pained at every line he has to utter. Unfortunately, Kiefer Sutherland seems to have chosen the Joaquin Phoenix route as a Roman ruler. The leads, Kit Harington (so good in Game of Thrones) and Emily Browning, merely look good. They don’t act well, aren’t charismatic, and have little chemistry on screen. You know nothing, Jon Snow!

The movie is clearly patterned off of James Cameron’s Titanic – so much so that it could be called plagiarism. Young man of the lower classes falls in love with bored, socially progressive, high society girl. Unfortunately parents have arranged her marriage to a very powerful, rich, and evil man. This evil man has a ruthless bodyguard with a weapon and knows how to quash his rival. Plans are set in motion and then calamity strikes. All they did was view this through a standard peplum gladiator plot.

The final act of Pompeii is the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and its impact on our players. The eruption and aftermath are quite well-handled and visually impressive. In reality, there were no fireballs raining down (that’s a different type of eruption) but there was a lot of eye candy. No spoilers but I did enjoy the way the movie ended, particularly as I’d been to the ruins.

Paul W.S. Anderson is currently at work on Resident Evil 6 with his wife, star Milla Jovovich.

Tales of the Black Freighter – Don’t Get on That Boat! week

This is Don’t Get on That Boat! week. Tales of the Black Freighter is currently available on instant Netflix.

Tales of the Black Freighter

WATCH: Tales of the Black Freighter (2009) – Rated R for violent and grisly images

“This animated short — based on the story-within-a-story in the graphic novel Watchmen — follows a shipwrecked sailor as he endures ghastly horrors to get home and protect his family from an attack by the evil pirate vessel Black Freighter. But as he sails a raft made from the bloated corpses of his former crew, the young mariner descends into delusion, madness and worse. Gerard Butler narrates this companion to 2009’s live-action film Watchmen.”

“One of my crew lay ahead. Birds were eating his thoughts and memories.”

First a word of warning – this is indeed an R-rated cartoon. It is violent, grisly, and disgusting. Of course that should be obvious from Netflix’s description and my choice of quote.

In Watchmen, Alan Moore envisioned that in a world where superheroes were real, ordinary people would read comic books about pirates and horror stories like the old EC comics (Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror). His comic within a comic reflects the descent into madness of one of his characters as well as the world in which they live.

This movie is short – only 25 minutes long. The animation is done in a good clean, albeit direct to video, style. The visuals are of course based on Dave Gibbon’s original drawings. Gerard Butler’s narration is excellent and fits the tone of the story well.

My recommendation is a little bit mixed.

If you read and enjoyed Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen then I absolutely highly recommend this even though the story is taken out of its proper context. Instant Netflix also has Under the Hood available which is a faux documentary interviewing the original Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. Under the Hood is not as entertaining but is free.

If you have not read the classic that is Watchmen, YOU SHOULD DO SO NOW! Barring that, this cartoon can be enjoyed on a Tales from the Crypt (minus the snarky Cryptkeeper) level. Keep in mind while watching it that this was written well before Castaway (before you notice a number of similarities especially Wilson).

People Watch: Jared Harris is the voice of Ridley. He is also David Robert Jones on Fringe and Lane Pryce on Mad Men. The song playing over the end credits is performed by Nina Simone.