A creepy house and the ghost of Lane Pryce when scared Screen visits the set of a new Hammer production.
It’s an occupational embarrassment — I have a problem watching scary movies. The last frightful film I saw in a cinema was the original Thai version of The Shutter at the Bangkok FIlm Festival in 2005. I was in physical pain the next day because my body had been so tense and convoluted in the seat trying to shield my eyes from the scary parts. After that, I’ve only been able to watch scary flicks during the day on DVD at home with all the lights on. Or maybe on a flight (as was the case recently with The Woman In Black, during which I jumped so much that I nearly knocked over my seatmate’s G&T.)
So I thought one cure for my scaredycatness might be to visit the set of a scary film, seeing all the spooky stuff by daylight with lots of friendly people around. So I set off to the set of Hammer’s next film, supernatural thriller The Quiet Ones, at a half-abandoned estate near Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.
The Quiet Ones follows the story of an Oxford professor (Jared Harris) who goes rogue and takes some students (Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne) off the grid to try to create a poltergeist from negative human energy. They use troubled young girl Harper (Olivia Cooke) as the source of that energy. A local guy (Sam Claflin, a former Screen Star of Tomorrow) documents their experiments when they move from Oxford to an old family home (where I visited). The story was inspired by a real experiment in Toronto in 1972.
The people were indeed lovely — director John Pogue was chatty and the cast was having a great time at lunch teling stories and eating pear and Mars bar crumble together.
But with no sunshine outside, and partially darkened corridors, the house (as dressed by production) was seriously eery — it looked fully the part of a half-abandoned family home from the 1970s. My tour of the set included a trip to the bedroom of the character of Harper — when the door was shut I felt instantly claustrophobic. The props department showed me a, well, ‘distressed’ crib that will give me nightmares for life. And production designer Matthew Gant showed me some ‘supernatural’ inspired photographs that were also disturbing.
And, as if the set itself wasn’t scaring me enough, here I stood, a huge Mad Men fan, watching a scene in which Jared Harris [pictured], dressed in a suit, standing behind a desk, was drinking whisky, smoking and talking to colleagues. It was like the ghost of Lane Pryce appeared right in front of me!
So I can’t say that I have cured myself of the spooks. The film seems like a very smart genre piece, and I can’t wait to see it (maybe with a pillow in front of my face). (Exclusive handles sales of The Quiet Ones.)