The 13th Floor

The Movie THE QUIET ONES is Based on a Real Event: The Phillip Experiment

In John Pogue’s 2014 film THE QUIET ONES, Professor Coupland, played by Jared Harris, sets to prove that supernatural events are just manifestation of the mind. Along with a group of students, Coupland heads to an isolated house in the country where they can study Jane, a young girl with a troubled past who is haunted by an entity she calls “Evey”. During the course of the investigation, Evey becomes more aggressive, lashing out at the professor and his students. Coupland’s hypothesis of the mind creating the supernatural isn’t just a movie concept but an actual study which took place in Canada 42 years before the film’s release.


In 1972, mathematician A.R.G Owen and Psychologist Dr. Joel Whitton wanted to test the theory that humans have the ability to communicate with fictionalized ghosts through the use of imagination. For this experiment, the imagined ghost was named Philip. Born in 1624 in England, Philip was a knight who fought in the English Civil War and was friends with King Charles II. He was married to a woman named Dorothea, but fell in love with a young Gypsy girl. His Gypsy lover was later accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Distraught, Philip committed suicide in 1654.

The group was first seated around an ordinary card table where they attempted to contact Philip. These first tests yielded no paranormal activity of any kind. The next step was to dim the lights, changing the test conditions in order to make it more like a stereotypical séance. Two weeks into this second phase, the group began to experience perceived paranormal phenomenon. Subjects began to feel a presence in the room, and at one point the table began to vibrate and turn. Believing contact had been established, the group began asking Philip questions. By tapping on the table, Philip answered questions in accordance with what the group already knew about him, but failed to expand on anything past the groups already established knowledge of him.

Once this deeper level of contact was achieved, things really began to take off. Philip was now able to move the table even more, at one point completely rotating it around and up on to two legs. As the experiment progressed Philip became more “real”. Lights would flicker on and off and on one occasion the table began to levitate the more involved the immersed the group became. It appeared as though they had actually made contact.


Owen and Whitton’s findings proved to be inconclusive as there was no way of proving that the human mind could will the supernatural into existence. Although evidence supports that the Philip Experiment may have just been groupthink or even a shared hallucination or delusion, there are those who believe that the group may have actually pulled a spirit or even a demon into the realm of existence. Check out the clip below of the actual Philip Experiment and judge for yourself.