Hammer Films’ upcoming supernatural chiller The Quiet Ones is yet another horror film that prides itself on being inspired by “true events”. The John Pogue-directed haunter recently found a spot on my “Most Anticipated” list so I decided to do a little digging to find out just what the film’s inspiration was. Now this one is a stretch, guys. The movie bases itself off of a little experiment that a group of scientists conducted back in the 70’s where they set out to create a ghost of their very own. Now that’s quite the twist on your typical ghost story isn’t it? We all know someone who claims to have experienced a supernatural event, or maybe even you yourself have have seen a ghost. But do ghosts actually exist, or is it something that our very mind manifests? Can we actually be the ones creating the ghost? That’s the question they set out to answer, and what they found turned out to be quite shocking. This is the true story that inspired The Quiet Ones.

In the 1970’s there was a group of Canadian parapsychologists who aimed to conduct an experiment that would create a ghost. In doing so it would prove their theory that those unexplained bumps in the night are actually products of the human mind. World-renown poltergeist expert Dr. Alan Robert George Owen created the group known as TSPR (Toronto Society for Psychical Research) consisting of eight people—Dr. Owen’s wife, an industrial designer, an accountant, a housewife, a bookkeeper and a sociology student. A psychologist named Dr. Joel Whitton also attended many of the experiments as an observer. Was this small group of people going to change the way we looked at the supernatural?

The experiments (which became known as the Philip Experiment) began in 1972 where their first task was to create a fictional historical character. Essentially what they did was pull “facts” out of thin air to attach to the life of this fictional character that they were creating. In doing so, they wrote a biography of this made up person, who they named Philip Aylesford. In his biography they stated that he was a 17th century English noble who was married to a beautiful, yet cold and unfriendly wife named Dorothea. One day, he ran into a beautiful gypsy girl named Margo who he almost instantly fell in love with. Uh, oh. Needlessly to say, Philip and Margo became secret lovers. But as most secrets go, it didn’t last forever because his wife, Dorothea, found out about Margo and accused her of witchcraft. Because Philip was much too worried about his reputation, he didn’t protest the idea of Margo being a witch, resulting in her being burned at the stake. Ouch. He then later was stricken with remorse, in which the only way he could deal with it was to fight in the battle of Diddington. One morning he was found dead on the battlefield, and Philip Aylesford was no more.

The Owen group didn’t stop at a simple biography, however, as one of the members even sketched a portrait of their newly created man. So what was the point of going through all the trouble of giving their fictional character a biography and even a picture? The reason was so that the group could be completely immersed in the non-existence of Philip. Strange, I know, but it sort of makes sense in a weird scientist kind of way. With step one now complete, it was time to move onto the next phase of their experiment. Contact!

Now they needed to contact Philip, but would they? They started their “sittings” in September of 1972 where they would discuss Philip’s life, trying to visualize him in as much detail as possible. These sittings went on for nearly a year with absolutely no results other than the occasional feeling of a presence in the room. At this point though, things weren’t looking good for TSPR’s experiment.

Going many months with no contact from Philip, they decided to approach it a bit differently. They began recreating the classic spiritualist séance—dimming the room’s lights and sitting around a table with pictures and objects from the time period that Philip would have lived in. It basically looked like every haunted house movie we’ve ever seen with a bunch of people sitting around a table in the dark, ready to awaken the spirit world. And it worked! This technique soon produced the exact results they were looking for. Philip had finally made contact, manifesting himself to the group.

One night, the group got their very first message from Philip in the form of a very clear knock on the table. They began asking him questions in which he would answer with one knock meaning “yes” and two meaning “no”. How did they know it was Philip? They asked him! They would ask him questions that came directly from the biography that they had created, and he answered them consistently but was unable to provide them with any additional information about his life beyond what they made up. That being said, Philip was able to give historically accurate information about not only real events from his time period, but the people who lived during it as well.

As the sessions went on, a range of unexplainable phenomena started occurring. Philip began to take on a personality of his very own. He started to show strong views on many subjects made by his hesitant knocks on the table. He even began moving the table, sliding it from one side to the other despite the fact that the table itself was sitting on thick carpet. They even reported that the table “danced” on one leg. When the group would ask Philip to dim the lights down, he would without hesitation. He could even cover the group in a blanket of cold air that would blow across the table in a chilling breeze. One thing the group noticed was that the table would feel electric to the touch when Philip was present. It was as if Philip, in a way, became the table itself. The group even said that he would cause the table to move quite a bit, even trapping people in the corner of the room with it.

The very climax of this experiment came before a live audience of 50 people which was filmed as part of a documentary. Philip wasn’t one to be shy so he performed in front of them without any issues. Other than getting him to knock on the table in front of the audience, he was able to make the lights flicker and even made the entire table levitate. The table rose just an inch off the ground where everyone witnessed it, even the film crew who were actually filming! But get this, because Philip had been toying with the lights, it actually prevented the cameras from capturing the amazing feat on film. How convenient is that?

The Philip Experiment far reached the expectations that the group had originally hoped for, but it was never actually able to meet their original goal—to actually see Philip materialize into a spirit.

So what did we actually learn from this whole thing? Some say that it proves that ghost do not exist, that they are simply created by our minds. Or maybe the group did actually contact the world of spirits and an entity just used this opportunity to “act” as Philip. So if this spirit wasn’t Philip, who could it have been? See, I told you this one was out there!

Over the years, since the experiment was conducted, it became quite obvious that the whole thing was simply just a hoax. The documentary is actually up on YouTube (you can watch it here) and it’s quite apparent that it was just an elaborate set up. Even still, it’s quite an interesting little tale, and it’s easy to see why Hammer wanted to make a movie inspired by these events. The film itself is very loosely based on this story as all they essentially did was take the simple idea of creating a ghost and ran with it in an entirely different direction. So there you have it, the “true” story behind The Quiet Ones.

For those of you who do believe in ghosts, do you buy the idea that they are just something that is created by our minds? Sound off in the comments below!

The Quiet Ones is directed by John Pogue from a screenplay by Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman and John Pogue. It stars Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne and Olivia Cooke. Look to get haunted by The Quiet Ones on April 25th!

Source: Time-loops, About, Ocprstoronto

– If you enjoyed this article please show your support for all things horror and like the blog on Facebook!

- And don’t forget to subscribe to Rhino’s Horror by entering your email address at the bottom of the page!


  1. This is a great tale. I love the convenience of Phillip screwing with their camera.

    Gotta say man, I absolutely love these ‘its true story’ features that you do occasionally. Probably a lot of work for you, but I am always keen to read more.

    1. Yea, I loved that part as well. I’m glad you enjoy these, man! They are a blast to write and I actually like doing the research for them. I’ll keep my eye out to do more of these in the future, that’s for sure!

  2. I’m looking forward to this ryan , I like watching horror films based on true facts, even though a lot is added to make it more interesting. You do an awesome job telling it as it is! I watch movies you recommend and don’t bother with the rest.

  3. I planted a ghost in my student flat last year saying I had seen an old lady. I actually found her old pension card in a draw from the 1990’s and based my experiment on the findings. She was seen by a girl that visited us and another member of the flat out of the corner of his eye. It is amazing how the mind can play tricks on you.

    1. Just because you create something like this dosesnt mean they are not there in the first place. You react because its there , mind dosest project outside the mind. Spirits are real we are all spirits now living in the physical bodies. You dont say oh I think I’ll see a ghost today. Spirits take you by surprise when your not expecting . Spirit have a sense of humour too after all they are people . That doesent change. That experiment that the movie is based on dosesnt prove they are not ghosts, spirits etc. Like I said spirit have a sense of humour. Too many people have experienced spirit events , dont take it on one movie open up your mind .

      1. Absolutely true! And creating someone to start focusing also creates a door or invitation to dark spirits that lie and pretend they are a ghost so they can latch on. I’m a hypersensitive and have dealt with these things since I was a child.

        Not a nice game to play on ppl.

      2. Yes it very well could have opened the door to demons and malevolent spirits who like to play mean. However, it’s becoming known that a Poltergeist is actually an energy form created from the energy emitted by a person or persons in the home. It actually takes on a life of it’s own, however just energy. So there is a big difference between a ghost and a poltergeist. If you read up on quantum physics. We now know the mind creates reality.

      3. I kind of agree. When you think about it – of course nothing happened because they were trying to contact a person whose spirit did not exist. If someone kept calling you by another name you wouldn’t answer them would you? Same principle. Now if you sort out a seance and then ask ‘is there anybody there?’ – who knows who will answer, lol. Love the concept.

  4. I think the concept of creating a ghost, or in the case of this movie, a poltergeist (not really a ghost at all, usually just strange occurrences stemming from early teen anxiety, usually in a dysfunctional home) is a fascinating idea. I knew I’d heard about the Phillip project but couldn’t remember the name or date, so thank you for that. A poltergeist should be easier to create than a ghost (or hoax) since generally they have no personality or physical appearance, just human energy. I’m looking forward to the movie, and found this to be a great blog!

    1. Thank you for bringing this possibility up. Even if this is a hoax, those who believe they are in contact with an ghost should keep this scenario in mind. If a sign of demonic possession is that the person possessed by a demon knows facts they wouldn’t otherwise know, why wouldn’t it be true of a demon posing as a ghost?

  5. I wanna watch the quiet ones, just to see how hammer brings it across to viewers. I myself have seen ghosts and they defo real. I live in a functional home so no angst there lolz. If they succeed in making a ghoul out of thinking then fair play to them. However if the room rigged, it would look the same and the tricks would make people think oh my gosh a ghost.

  6. I’m not really a fan of horror movies per say, but I do have a profound interest in the supernatural, always have. I saw the trailer on Apple movie trailers, and the story-line sounded interesting. Found your blog by doing a random search on Google, and I must say it was a very well-written and interesting article! :)

    I am a biology student, with a scientific mind. But it is still an open mind and I have deep spiritual beliefs that do no conflict with my scientific training. I absolutely believe in ghosts, wether they are actually souls stuck between this world and the next, or manifestations of resonating psychic energy left behind by a traumatic event or other. After all, even Physics teach us that everything is energy, and the wonderful, crazy world of Quantum Mechanics puts everything we thought we knew to be true on its head!

    I think both are possible. I believe in the soul, and think it is possible for some to be trapped in the physical world they no longer belong in. But psychic, electro-magnetic energy is a very real thing too and can be extremely powerful. Who’s to say our minds don’t possess the ability to make us see things that are seen by others too? If you think about it, that is kind of the premise of the story behind the Silent Hill games, it’s the little girl’s psyche which creates the hell dimension of Silent Hill… ;)

  7. Don’t like horror movies, I do believe that minds can see what we suggest they see. With that said, we had several strange experiences my children were young. Most of the time they showed up and went into one bedroom or the dinning room. There were two adult men and to toddler aged children. We never saw them together usually the men or the children. Frequently we heard our names called or the room feel very cold. I found my kids taking toy cars into the closet and charging neighbor kids .25 to watch the toys fly out of the closet. Once there was a smell of smoke and visualsmoke in the house, searching to make sure everyone was out I found a camp fire in my dinning room with two children crouching beside it warming themselves. As I ran around the 1/2 wall that separates the dinning area from the rest of the house they disappeared with the camp fire, but smoke was still filling the house. So, we moved. We were all thinking it was imagination or that maybe we were crazy, so I went back several years later to visit the current residents, reality check I suppose. I didn’t know them but they were willing to talk to me and I asked them if they had ever seen anything unusual or strange in the house and if so where. The residents had seen two men and the children too. They also said the place in the house they did not like to go was that same bedroom the toys were flying out of the closet and would become very cold. We were the first residents in 1975 I believe there have been 4 or 5 since we moved in 1987. Do I believe in ghosts, yes, or something…..

    1. I enjoyed the movie and liked how the filming of it was like old film technology. I agree, Barbara, spirits are real. When my dad died many years ago, all I could think of was putting 4 golf balls on each corner of his gravestone, but had no idea where there was a shop to buy them (no computers back then). A couple of weeks later I found a golf ball on our front lawn and thought, “hmmm, this is interesting.” Next day, I found another one. “OK, Dad is telling me something.” A few days later I found 2 more golf balls in our rock garden. That was the 4 golf balls I had wanted. Never saw any more after that. To this day, they are still on the 4 corners of his stone.

  8. I do believe in the spirit world, when my daughter was 2 she saw her dead dad’s spirit not all the time just occasionally. She could even pick out random strangers who had lost their parent too. But I do believe some stuff is a persons imagination and other things are falsified.

  9. Ryan dude first let me congratulate you. I cant even imagine how much work must this have been especially since it was something from the 70s. I really really enjoyed the article man I mean the story itself is very intriguing and the funny thing is that one can only wonder can phillip turn malevolent or not I cant wait to see the movie thanks for the information!! Also if it possible or if there is the movie Deliver Us From Evil is also based on true story and Ive been trying to look for someone that explains the true life events of the movie if you can or if you already can you send me the link so I can read it? And again congrats men!

    1. Thanks, man! I really appreciate that. I have not had a chance to dig up the info on Deliver Us from Evil but I’m sure it’s a fascinating story. I might try to get some info up on that sometime in the future.

  10. Hi, great article; dreadful, dreadful film :p
    The greatest weapon in John Pogue’s arsenal of scare-tactics, is the audience’s uneasy fear that they’re going to leave the cinema with perforated eardrums. Whereas ‘quiet-quiet-LOUD’ is a sadly-established substitute for atmosphere these days, in this film it’s superceded by ‘normal-normal-EXCRUCIATING’.
    Boring, annoying a laughable in equal measure, The Quiet Ones is (should be) an embarrassment to Hammer and the genre in general. What I don’t understand is how they decided to make this film rather than a one about the genuinely interesting psychological experiment outlined in the article…

  11. Do I believe in Ghosts?….. I want to believe in Ghost… I try hard too….. I just love the adrenaline rush you get from a good old scary ghost story…… But I have NEVER seen or had any real life ghost experiences….. I think its because I like being scared by ghosts so much, they never show themselves or make themselves known to me…………………….. How could the mind create its own ghost, when people who DONT want contact with ghosts.. and never asked for it, get contact,……… But yet, more of us who WANT contact with Ghosts…… couldn’t pay enough for just 1 real life experience……. I would love to see a Ghost or something paranormal in real life…….. but my mind cant create a Phillip…. what do I do…..

  12. Lovely! Looking forward to seeing if this will scare me…its always good to read a little on the ‘based on a true story/true events’ bollocks….

  13. The movie is kind of average.Atmospheric and you spend it anticipating scares that don’t arrive.Not the worst horror I have seen,but if your expecting it to be on par with Woman in Black,you might be disappointed.

    As for ghosts being a manifestation of our imagination…I’m quiet a level-headed realist,but I have had paranormal experiences.As a child I seen a white lady figure in a local wood.At the time I was intrigued – not scared and was totally unaware of the local history where a maid died in the same place jumping from the window of a castle that had been on fire,which I didn’t learn until many years later.
    I also saw a strange man with facial scarring and hollow eyes as an adult who suddenly disappeared.I was out walking my dog at the time,very late on.I know of no stories relating to him and what’s more my sister was with me and witnessed it too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s