The 1970s were a scary time in the world of psychological experiments. As if shock therapy and lobotomies weren’t enough to keep people pretending they weren’t ill, there were fringe experiments in the field that would vary from university to university. Some of these experiments were based on the psyche and how it would handle fear among other crazy approaches.
Some of these would place focus on where the fear came from. The case study done in 1972 by a group of Canadian Parapsychologists was centered on the idea that supernatural experiences came from the mind of the individual as opposed to existing in the real world beforehand.
To clarify, eight individuals focused and meditated on a made up “ghost” named Phillip Aylesford to see if a ghost could be created entirely from the imagination.
An entire background was written for Aylesford even going as far as bringing in a painted portrait of the fictional character. When the meditation and concentration failed to produce, the group conducted séances by sitting around a table and calling to the imaginary entity.
To everyone’s surprise (and this bit was documented on video) the group was successful in communicating with “something” that had interacted with the table by tapping once for yes, and twice for no.
In the most extreme points of the situation the entity would agree with the backstory that was made up and go so far as to answer questions about its past and rattle the table around.
The experiment was deemed a success and is still the cause of much investigation to this day.
“The Quiet Ones” takes the backstory of the Phillip experiment among a few other similar experiments in the 70s and uses it as a starting point to give a much more horrifying version of what could have happened in the environment they set up.
With the producer of “The Woman in Black” and the iconic Hammer Production Studios behind “The Quiet Ones” any self-respecting horror film has to raise an eyebrow with some interest.
Star of “The Quiet Ones” Jared Harris plays Professor Joseph Coupland. Harris has had some great roles in his past that include Moriarty from “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and David Robert Jones from “Fringe” among a ton of others. Olivia Cooke, who has roles in A&E’s “Bates Motel” and the upcoming sci-fi thriller “The Signal,” plays Jane Harper.
iHorror: While doing your research on “The Quiet Ones” did you stumble across any other experiments that were being done around that same time?
Jared Harris: The original experiment was more of the match that started it all up. But, there are a bunch of experiments that were done during the 70s that were much more about being trick experiments. There were the famous ones where electric shocks were administered if the person got a wrong answer they would keep turning up the voltage. The idea was to see how far people would go, and the real experiment is being done on the person that is conducting the experiment more than the subject. There were lots of elements that the writers drew to weave into the story. And there was some pretty outrageous things that people were doing back then, if you look at the Stanford experiment, I don’t know if anyone could get away with something like that now.
iHorror: What sparked your interest in this story?
Olivia Cooke: It was just an amazing story; I had never read anything else like it, as far as the dynamics of the relationships go. This girl thinks she is possessed and these two are helping her to either cure her or to get to the point where this thing inside of her is projected out. I also just love her character. She is five characters in one: she’s manipulative, she’s a teenage vixen, she’s vulnerable, she’s a lot of fantastic things.
iHorror: Were you a horror fan growing up?
Harris: Yea, absolutely. We used to watch them with my dad. He had a 16mm projector, and we used to rent them. I remember watching “Night of the Living Dead” and I didn’t sleep for 10 days, I remember going to see ”Jaws” and I wouldn’t get in the ocean for about four years. I remember a great film called “Night of the Demon” which was a fantastic horror movie, and of course “Rosemary’s Baby.” I have to say there is a theme that runs through all of them, and they rely on the audience’s imagination and a psychological aspect to achieve their effect rather than any in your face excessive violence and gore…. That said I also love “Evil Dead 2.”
Cooke: I love horror movies. I think they are best when you go with your friends and you get to see them all scared, trying to hide behind their scarf or behind their jacket. I really loved “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious” and “The Woman In Black.”
iHorror: Have you ever had a real life paranormal experience or anything that appeared to be outside the realm?
Cooke: I really haven’t, but its like I’m trying to will them to happen and they never do. Me and Jared both have had family members that have told us about something that happened to them, so we can only go off their experiences, until you have your own you can never be certain if it is a reality or not.
Harris: I’ve never had any, no, but I am open-minded about it. But, yes I have had plenty of family members who have so it seems the paranormal is avoiding me on purpose. I have quizzed them about their experiences rigorously in terms of a sort of skeptical point of view to get to the bottom of what it actually was. It is a truly fascinating subject, and the reason it is so fascinating is because nobody has come up with a concrete definition. And science hasn’t seemed to be able to penetrate it. And yet there is so much that seems to be anecdotal evidence but there is so much of it that it doesn’t seem to be something that is completely made up, and the real question is. What is it? Which is essentially what “The Quiet Ones” is about. It points out, what is the supernatural, does it exist, and if it does exist what is its source.
iHorror: What are some of those experiences that you have been told about by family or friends?
Harris: My brother woke up in the middle of the night and saw someone at the end of the bed, and he thought there was an intruder in the house, so he nudged his girlfriend who also saw someone sitting at the end of the bed, eventually this person turned its head looked at them and stood up, walked along to the side of the bed and leaned in over them and stared at them right in the face and then just vanished right in front of both of them.
iHorror: What was it like to film on location in a house that had been derelict for so long? Did it add to the experience, and were there any scares on set as a result of it?
Cooke: It was a bit creepy and the smell and the fact that we never let any sunlight in created this like really claustrophobic and isolated atmosphere, but apart from that we were taking our characters in each scene to such extremes that when they would yell cut we would really have to laugh everything off or be at risk of becoming entirely depressed just from the environment and tone around us.
Harris: The house sort of had a business park sort of attached to it, which was very weird. And it was abandoned for 15 years. There was a lot of atmosphere there though; weirdly the more modern business center area was even creepier than the old house. The modern business part had been home to some animal testing . It was a perfect way of getting prepared for the mood of the film, because you would have to walk through that place to get to the old Victorian house, It was really useful in that it would get you in that mood of science experiments gone badly wrong.
“The Quiet Ones” is now playing in theatres.