the unseen aliens terrorizing the English countryside appreciate tea time. For
two-hours every day, they retreat back to the mother ship, giving the humans a
brief respite. Sadly, but only too believably, most survivors squander that
time on in-fighting and their own inhumanity towards man. A young former veterinary
student did not ask for any of this, but she will do her best to protect her
home and blind brother from terrestrial invaders in Stéphanie Joalland’s The Quiet Hour (trailer here), which releases
today on DVD from Monarch Home Entertainment.
days ago, Sarah Connelly’s father did not make it home in time. She buried him,
but has yet to break the news to her brother Tom. Unfortunately, she will have
more pressing issues when a former solider named Jude barges into their home.
Frankly, he does not seem so bad. It is the small gang of plunderers (very much
in the tradition of The Road) chasing
him who will be the problem. Jude insists the earth-scorching Kathryn and her
savage family will not stop with him. They will also steal the Connelly’s food
and supplies, most likely killing them in the process. Although Tom is
skeptical, his sister is quickly convinced. Thus, begins a strange siege that
is only waged two hours a day.
atmosphere of Hour is almost indescribably
dark and moody. It is sort of like a cross between the early episodes of the
BBC’s mid-1980s sf show, The Tripods,
and the post-apocalyptic prepper dramas, like The Road or Into the Woods.
There are most definitely aliens raining down death from the skies, but it is a
complete mismatch of extinction event proportions. We never see the aliens
themselves, jut the mother ship looming in the horizons and snatches of the
patrol vehicles (because if you ever saw them clearly, you’d probably be dead).
Hour is very
unsettling, in part because the alien occupation is so impersonal and callous.
There is no commander sneering at humanity like the dreadlock-sporting John
Travolta in Battlefield Earth (to
pick on a real strawman example). We do not even register—period.
French-born British-based Joalland is remarkably assured executing the
intangibles like vibe and world-building (sort of like the more precise mise-en-scène).
Viewers can feel a hush settle over them as soon as the film starts. However,
she never really kicks the narrative up to an appropriate climatic level.
Instead, it just seems to slowly rise along a modest gradient.
Dakota Blue Richards (the young lead in the disastrous Golden Compass adaptation way back when New Line was still a
studio) is terrific as Connelly. She is tough, sensitive, and looks comfortable
holding a hunting rifle. Likewise, Karl Davies broods quite effectively, while
also handling the macho stuff pretty well. In contrast, Jack McMullen’s Tom
Connelly is rather petulant and whiny, but the character is probably entitled,
given his backstory.
It is too bad Joalland could not seal the deal with
a perfect dismount, but she still shows plenty of talent and potential,
especially if she continues making non-traditional genre films. This is exactly
the sort of film that would make a perfect video rental back in the day, or
something like a digital VOD stream in current parlance. Ultimately well-worth
seeing for its considerable merits, The
Quiet Hour releases today (3/21) on DVD, from Monarch Home Entertainment.
Labels: British Cinema, DVD, Home Invasion films, Sci-Fi films