When I wrote my first article on the creepypasta phenomenon for this site, I covered some of the most notorious viral legends that, at the time, might have been dwarfed by the long, scary shadow of Slenderman — but are just as disturbing (if not more so) and widely-shared among creepypasta fans. Since then, these terrifying tales have moved to the forefront of popular culture, and the trend has now grown beyond the bounds of Reddit, 4chan and other online communities.
One of those lesser-known but no less infamous tales surrounds an allegedly haunted video clip known as “The Grifter.”
First referenced on 4chan’s /x/ board (where thousands of disturbing, unexplained images and/or stories of alleged paranormal events are shared on a regular basis), “The Grifter” was frequently discussed, but its origins were never corroborated, and for a while no actual footage from the video itself was identified.
In 2008, the following exchange on that board (an excerpt from a much longer thread) includes disturbing images posted by a user under the handle the_solipsist, who claimed they were actual screenshots from “The Grifter” — accompanied by extremely disturbing claims about the content of the video itself.
The exchange includes some alternate theories and links from other unnamed posters, some of whom claim they have seen the footage… but solipsist asserts what they’d viewed could not have been the real thing, because they lacked certain key details. Nevertheless, multiple users described the same specific content, suggesting that while they may have seen the same clip, it might not have been the original film — which, according to the most widely-circulated Grifter creepypasta, is a “soul-rending experience” which can trigger nightmares, madness and even death in viewers.
Dozens of users have come forward claiming to possess the original video, or at least excerpts from it… but those have been debunked as hoaxes. One of the creepiest was revealed to contain short clips from the feature LITTLE OTIK by surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. [This is probably the best-known version currently on YouTube.]
However, more than a year after I reported on the Grifter legend in my introductory article on creepypastas, a source (who will remain nameless) approached me with an extraordinary claim: while all previous Grifter videos have been widely debunked as hoaxes, this person asserted they had acquired the original, unedited film which triggered the internet uproar in the first place.
While they told me the urban myth about the video’s deadly effects has been exaggerated, they did issue a warning: apparently, the actual version of “The Grifter” contains embedded subliminal audio signals — most of which occupy an extreme low-frequency range (usually lower than 20 Hz) known as infrasound, which is not detectable by the human ear at low volumes, but can have adverse and sometimes extremely harmful effects on the body when played at a stronger amplification. Those effects can range from hallucinations and sensory distortion to migraines, nausea and cardiac arrhythmia.
The clip below contains selected excerpts from the video file I received (sourced from a 3/4-inch analog tape master), some of which do contain measurable infrasound waves. These signals, when played on larger speakers, did indeed trigger feelings of discomfort and anxiety, accompanied by a slight headache and nausea. All of those symptoms subsided a few minutes after viewing. At lower volumes, or when using earphones, the effects lessened considerably.
I can verify that no other adverse side-effects were experienced… although I did encounter multiple technical difficulties encoding the file for our video player, which delayed this post for several months.
WARNING: I highly recommend you do not play this clip at extreme volume, as this could potentially increase the aforementioned negative effects — not to mention damage your device’s speakers. We claim no responsibility for such damages should they occur.
With that disclaimer out of the way, we present an excerpt from this new and (allegedly) authentic version of “The Grifter”… but watch at your own risk!