Back in February, we told you that the ever-affable Michael Sheen was weighing his options on The Quiet Ones, a thriller from England’s newly-resurrected Hammer Horror. That wasn’t meant to be but, while it’s unfortunate he’d drop out of a really interesting project — especially when his past few years have been a smidge rough — the company’s found a replacement that I definitely take as something of an upgrade.

Courtesy of a press release, it’s been announced that Jared Harris (Mad Men, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) will lead the film, which John Pogue (Quarantine 2) will direct for a June start. Initially scripted by Tom DeVille — subsequently rewritten by Oren Moverman (Rampart), Craig Rosenberg, and the director himself — The Quiet Ones is a “based on true events” horror tale, wherein an “unorthodox, but charismatic professor” named Joseph Coupland (Harris) tasked his students with creating a poltergeist by way of “negative human energy.” Spookiness abounds.

Stories about poltergeists, those who try to create them, and the chaos they create, often run the risk of being a little hokey — save for Tobe Hooper films secretly directed by Steven Spielberg — but Harris is, without any doubt, one of his country’s finest actors. And, seeing as a well-acted ghost film is something Hammer made their name on, I’ll take these main credits as a reassuring sign at the moment.

Read the full press release below (via ComingSoon):

Simon Oakes, Vice-Chairman of Exclusive Media and President & CEO of Hammer and Guy East and Nigel Sinclair, Co-Chairmen of Exclusive Media, Hammer’s parent company, announced today that Jared Harris has signed on to star as Professor Joseph Coupland in The Quiet Ones.

The Quiet Ones is a supernatural thriller/horror to be directed by John Pogue (Quarantine 2) which James Gay-Rees (Senna, Exit Through the Gift Shop) will produce in association with TPSC Films. With the story and original screenplay by Tom DeVille, revisions by Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman and most recently John Pogue, the film is currently in pre-production and will start shooting in June 2012 in the UK.

Inspired by true events, The Quiet Ones tells the story of an unorthodox, but charismatic professor who uses controversial methods and leads his best students off the grid to take part in a dangerous experiment: to create a poltergeist from negative human energy.

The Quiet Ones marks Hammer’s next production after the worldwide box office hit, The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe, which has taken over $120 million at the box-office worldwide to date.

Jared Harris recently starred in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and “Mad Men.” He will next be seen in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, currently in post-production.

Exclusive Media’s President of Worldwide Production & Acquisitions, Tobin Armbrust, is overseeing production alongside Director of Development, Shira Rockowitz. Alex Walton, President of International Sales and Distribution, is handling international sales. TPSC Film’s President, Steven Chester Prince, is a producer on the project for the newly formed independent film division of The Traveling Picture Show Company.

John Pogue said: “Jared Harris is an extraordinarily talented actor and I’m thrilled that he will be playing the key role of Professor Joseph Coupland, who led his most ambitious students in a notorious 1974 experiment to create a poltergeist. Jared has the perfect blend of charisma, intelligence and wit that the part of Professor Coupland demands, and I’m excited to watch him bring the role to life.”

Simon Oakes, President & CEO of Hammer and Vice Chairman of Exclusive Media said: “’The Quiet Ones’ is set to be an incredibly chilling and sinister picture that we are proud to be a part of. It’s another unique horror movie which we believe will appeal to audiences around the world.”

Is Harris’ casting a source of optimism for yourself? How does The Quiet Ones come across at this point?

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