Decay (2012) is a rare beast – a horror movie that started out as a side project by a bunch of physicists, set in a location that most Hollywood blockbusters would never be able to afford. It is sometimes known as ‘The LHC Zombie Movie’, and it was directed by Luke Thompson and set entirely on location in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
Talk about an over-achiever, not content with being a physics doctorate working at the LHC, Luke Thompson then also decides to make a zombie film there in his spare time using other scientists as actors and the actual tunnels of the LHC as a set.
This is by far one of the best locations to shoot any film, and it’s even better that it’s a horror movie. Decay was made by British physics PhD students working in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). You know, the one that is trying to recreate the inception of the universe and could possibly generate a black hole and thus ending life on Earth as we know it. Not only is that insanely cool, but as a bonus the compound’s structures are beautifully designed and make for one hell of a setting – the network of tunnels in the LHC are used to great effect in the movie and really add a sense of tension and suffocation to the film, there is nowhere that the cast can really run to escape, and the dark length of the tunnels could be hiding anything.
Writer and director Luke Thompson and twenty other scientists took time out of their busy schedules to make this film for fun because they thought the seventeen mile long LHC tunnels would be an awesome and creepy backdrop for a zombie movie. They were right, and all it took was two years, permission from the higher ups, a minimal budget of about £2000, props saved from the trash, and a couple of borrowed cameras. Rather than attempting a cash-in on their cinematic experiment, Thompson decided to put the movie up for free under a Creative Commons license. That is dedication to the genre.
Four physics students (and one girlfriend) are tasked with monitoring a group of scientists as they go underground to investigate a problem with the LHC. After a fairly boring evening of hanging out staring at computer screens, something goes wrong and the Large Hadron Collider turns on with the team still inside. The students manage to turn off the power before it reaches critical mass, but are forced to walk the labyrinthine tunnels with only emergency lighting to guide them. Turns out the elementary particle, the Higgs Boson, creates fast moving radiation zombies. The group then gets repeatedly stalked, hunted, and attacked as they try and find their way out of the maze of tunnels, and discover who sabotaged the machine in the first place.
While the action in Decay is comparatively sparse compared to other low-budget zombie films, this adds to the realism already established by shooting on location and using ‘actors’ who actually work at the facility. If you’re stuck in a seventeen mile tunnel system with thirty zombies, odds are you are not going to see one every couple of minutes. Mobile phones don’t work underground, so if you come across a computer you’ll spend as much time as possible trying to get a message out. It’s this sense of realism which sets the film apart from other low-budget horror.
It boggles the mind that this group of scientists, with no film-making background whatsoever, was able to shoot such a well-made film on a whim. Working at arguably one of the coolest places on earth has inspired creativity in pop culture as well as in science and technology.
As a bonus, nerds will rejoice that for once the science in a movie is not total bullshit (although to be fair it has yet to be proved that the Higgs Boson and the LHC will create zombies, there is still time yet though, so you never know). Who cares that the acting is sub-par and it’s difficult to determine some of the relationships between characters? We have all seen a lot worse, and they have other things on their minds; you know, like finding the God Particle. So cut them some slack, and enjoy the ride.
No black holes or Higgs Boson particles were harmed during the making of this movie.
Watch the trailer for ‘Decay’:
Watch the full movie:
Much like the movie, the soundtrack to Decay has also been released for free under a creative commons license. The score was composed and performed by Tom McLaughlan and Katie McLaughlan and features 6 original tracks that swings between moody string pieces, and modern Mogwai-esq post-rock tracks. You can listen to it below (the link to download the soundtrack can also be found below):
Listen to the soundtrack for ‘Decay‘
- Official Site where you can download the film in 720p, or high quality 1080p- Decay official website
- Download the soundtrack – Decay Soundtrack
- Official twitter account – Decay on Twitter
Written by: Danielle Beauchea