May 21, 1973: 6 people are conducting a para-pyschological experiment, where they have a séance, and all try to concentrate on the same deceased being. This is called The Charles Experiment. They look at a drawing of the man, and with the 6 of them concentrating at the same time, they hope to be able to bring the spirit to the room. The table shakes, the lights flicker, and nothing else happens.
Current: 2 male college students, Patrick (Tom Felton) and Ben (Sebastian Stan), are rolling a cart filled with computers, monitors, and all kinds of electronic equipment down stairs, through the basement, to an area they have set up as a lab. They meet Lydia (Julianna Guill) there, and the 3 of them set the equipment up. These students are going to replicate The Charles Experiment, but have made some improvements. With today’s equipment and computers, they will each focus on the 3-dimensional sculpture of the man instead of looking at a drawing, and their thoughts will be electronically amplified to that of 500 people. They hope to get the spirit to manifest in the physical world.
They concentrate, and the figure moves. Then the table shakes, there is a big boom, strange sounds and lights move through the lab, and the figure cracks in half. The lights go out. While looking for a flashlight, they hear a scream, and we see Lydia being pulled backwards across the room and into the ceiling. She is gone.
Today: Kelly (Ashley Greene) works at a vet office. Her boyfriend, Ben, calls to ask her to pick him up at work. They go to Costco, where she buys a small cactus plant, and finally talks Ben into buying some camping gear. In their neighborhood, they stop at a neighbor’s house to say hi; Mike (Rick Gomez) and his young daughter Maggie (Anna Clark) and their dog Pepper are the only other people living in the subdivision. With the economy, the subdivision is a ghost village, and full of empty homes.
Kelly is renting the house from her parents; they purchased it as an investment, and Kelly is being entrusted to take care of it. She notices later that night that the new cactus plant is already dead. She also finds a burn mark on the counter, and neither of them has any idea how it got there. Kelly sets the alarm, and they play video games and fall asleep. She wakes up in the middle of the night, and is shocked to see both front and back doors wide open. Ben gets up and checks out the house. They decide to replace all the locks tomorrow. They call the security company, and they think it must have been kids pulling a prank. Ben changes the locks and installs 4 surveillance cameras outside.
Pepper the dog shows up at their house, and just walks in. Kelly follows him as he goes into the laundry room, whines and stares at the ceiling, then he lays down on the floor, nearly dead. She takes him back to Mike, and they go to the vet. Mike comes out with Pepper in a blanket, dead.
At home, Kelly notices that the linoleum floor in the laundry room is cracked and peeling. She peels part of it back and sees the base floor is covered with mold and spores. Ben takes a flashlight and goes under the crawlspace to check; he finds a huge spot that is covered in mold and spores. Something flashes past him, but he can’t tell what it was. He calls mold inspectors and tries to get an appointment.
Kelly takes a shower; as she showers, we see the soap turn black and moldy in her hand. Ben is on his computer and sees 36 messages from Patrick, all marked URGENT. They say, “We are going to try again-you should be here” and “Containment failed” and then “You are in danger." He sees an attachment on one and watches a video. It shows 4 people retrying the experiment, and this time they amplify the power of the 4 to that of 4,000 people. They think they can trap the spirit in a special electrical chamber, the Apparition Chamber.
Kelly finishes showering; as she leaves the shower, behind her is a shadowy figure, but she doesn’t see it. She goes to the closet, and looks shocked, and calls for Ben. He comes in, and all the clothes in the closet are tied in knots, and the wooden hangars are broken and twisted. The wall behind the clothes is all slashed. They hear a noise and go downstairs, and hear furniture moving. There are loud banging noises throughout the house. Kelly wants to leave, but Ben talks her into staying. They compromise, and sleep in the tent in the backyard. Ben promises to stay awake and watch.
While Kelly sleeps, Ben hears noises and goes to investigate. We see his laptop inside, with the 4 surveillance monitor screens up. One goes static, then another, and then a third. The last one working shows the vision drop. The camera inexplicably fell from the side of the house, and is sliding closer to Kelly. We see it get closer to her on the monitor, and then it just stops and films her. Ben returns and trips over the camera. It is dented and broken, and he can’t figure out how it happened.
In the morning, Ben stays at the house to clean up, and will call someone to come check out the house and closet. Kelly wants to leave, but knows her parents are counting on her, so decides to stay. They both agree if anything else happens, they will go to a hotel.
Patrick calls, but Ben declines it again. He hides strange looking electronic gadgets in a large silver trunk in the garage, and covers it with a blanket, and shoves it under other boxes. He goes in the house and finds a huge web of mold and spores growing in the corner ceiling in the kitchen. He takes a broom and starts chipping it down, and something large falls out: the sculpture of the man they tried to bring from the spirit world. He is freaked out, then cleans the debris and puts it in the trash, loads it in his car and leaves. As he leaves, the garage door opens by itself.
Kelly returns and stops by the neighbor’s house. She brought Maggie a new dog. She asks Mike if he has had anything strange going on at his house, but he hasn’t. Maggie tells her that her house killed Pepper. She goes home to find the garage door open, and a big silver trunk in the center of the garage. She opens it and finds all the equipment. Kelly tries some of it out, then finds a recorder, and takes it inside to watch. She see a film of the experiment where Patrick, Ben, and Lydia tried to contact the spirit, and Lydia disappearing. When Ben returns, he sees she found his hidden equipment and says he can explain. He tells her about the experiment, and that Lydia has never been seen since; she’s simply gone. It was a college experiment, where they were trying to contact a spirit. He’s sorry he didn’t tell her, and Kelly says she can’t believe anything he says. She tells him to get out of her house. Ben calls Patrick and leaves him a message.
Kelly is inside, and one by one, the lights in the house go out. She picks up his night vision monitor, and walks through the house, looking for something. A figure appears and zooms towards her. She screams, and Ben comes running in. They go to a hotel. Kelly makes Ben sleep on the sofa.
At 5:30am, Ben wakes up, and sees himself sleeping on the sofa; a replica of him is on the ceiling, looking down at the other Ben. He can’t move, but sees everything. Kelly sleeps, and the sheets of the bed begin to move; something is underneath and gets closer to her. Suddenly, the sheets constrict around her, and she cannot breathe or escape. Ben on the sofa wakes up, wrestles Kelly out of the sheet, and rips it open so she can breathe. They get in the car and drive.
While driving, the phone rings. It is Patrick. He meets them the next day, and tells them the house isn’t haunted, but THEY are. The spirit they contacted wants to enter our world, and feeds off our energy. It came through a rift in the last attempt, and the containment system they built failed. Patrick built a chamber, surrounded by negative electrical currents, to keep the spirit away and that is how he has survived so far.
They go back to the house, and place transmitters all around. They will use those, coupled with the city’s power to magnify their thoughts of the spirit, to the power of 400,000 people. They are going to play the tape of the experiment in reverse, hoping to trap and send back the spirit, and then lock the rift.
Kelly sees movement on the laptop monitor--something is in the laundry room. She goes in, and sees a box move. Then, a dark figure starts to crawl out of the dryer. She screams. Ben and Patrick break the door down to save Kelly. The figure is gone.
They start the new experiment: they link the transmitters and reverse the playback, and watch the monitor that has a schematic drawing of the house. The house makes noise, the sheetrock cracks, dust falls, and then it splits open and crumbles. Windows shatter, light bulbs explode, and then all is quiet. Kelly asks, “Did it work?”
As a precaution, Patrick gives them directions to his house and safety chamber. They take out some trash, and Patrick goes back inside the house. He is sitting at the table, having a beer. Behind him, a door opens, and suddenly his chair is pulled backwards into the open door and darkness. He holds on to the doorframe, and tries but cannot hold it, and is pulled into the darkness, and his chair is thrown back into the room. Kelly and Ben come in, find the empty chair, and the house a shambles. Furniture is stuck in the stairs, the ceiling, everywhere. They look, but there is no Patrick. They take his directions and drive towards his safety chamber.
It takes all day, but by evening, they arrive at Patrick’s, find the chamber and go in. It is a small space, surrounded by electrical fencing. Ben powers it up. On the video, they hear narration that of the 6 original members of the Charles Experiment, 2 died, one committed suicide and 3 are missing. It explains that they were trying to prove that the supernatural is just a natural part of our world, and that it is just science. The lights go out, they hear all kinds of strange noises, and suddenly, Ben is gone. Kelly is alone.
She exits the chamber, opens a door, and finds Ben’s dead body, contorted. She grabs a flashlight, leaves the house and begins walking as she sees their truck being swallowed up by the ground.
Narration by Patrick explains that the first experiment made them like a beacon to the spirit. The 2nd one helped it crossover, and that it gets stronger with each person it takes. It was too late to stop it once they opened the door. It wears you down until you are too weak, and then it takes you.
At daybreak, Kelly finds a town. She sees Costco, and for some strange reason, it is deserted, and open. She wanders, dazed, through the store, and sees the camping gear. She crawls in a tent and zips it shut. She sits, staring, and then a hand comes from behind her and grabs her shoulder, another grabs her other shoulder, and a third grabs her neck. A big hand comes out and covers her mouth-we just see her frightened eyes, then darkness.
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