“Say goodbye to classical reality, because our logic collapses on the subatomic level into ghosts and shadows.”
In John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, we find a unique collision of science and religion. While the film effectively instills a sense of spiritual terror, it also attempts to ground the supernatural horror in something real…Or, at least real-ish.
A group of scientists and philosophers gather together inside an abandoned church to study a strange ancient container that may or may not be holding the anti-christ. Again? Really? Yes, but its not just another Old Testament, fire and brimstone kind of movie. There’s a great deal of talk that expands the concept of good and evil, light and dark, beyond the confines of religion. Characters indulge in long dialogue scenes about subatomic particles, the existence of morality, and alternate realities. With all these big ideas framed by the return of an ancient, foreboding evil, the true horror seems to be mankind’s struggle to understand the darkness at work in nature. Part of that darkness, as the film suggests, is hidden by religion, which only gives it more power over us once it eventually resurfaces.
There’s a tangible level of existential dread throughout the film. It’s as though every frame was soaked in it. It’s built like the beginning of a roller coaster. Your cart is always clicking higher and higher on the ascending track, but you never reach the top, and you never know how far you have to fall. Still, your hands are clenched for that inevitable drop. But will the terrifying descent be into hell, or some mysterious unknown with demons infinitely worse?