Combining stories of supernatural horror with science is not uncommon. Authors like Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy and Dan Brown has come to define the term “techno thriller”, suspense stories with focus on the element of scientific discourse, in order to increase the suspension of disbelief. Which is always appreciated. I mean, if we are invested in a good book or a great film, any detail supporting the suspension of disbelief is welcomed with open arms!
Prince of Darkness from 1987 is trying to incorporate scientific themes and thoughts into a supernatural movie about religious myths mostly connected to the Anti-Christ. The embodiment of evil (the “Anti-God”, the actual father of Satan) in this case, is represented by a canister containing a living green substance. It’s found in an ancient church, locked away by a secret society. A group of scientists are sent there to study this finding before it can be revealed to the world.
Here, we are introduced to characters talking about how our logic and view on reality “collapses on the subatomic level”, even going so far as bringing up the thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat, introducing a theme about non-sense and impossibility. All this foreshadowing the rest of the movie, with its religious overtones.
At the same time, the movie builds up a mythology of its own, related to Christian myths. The names Jesus, Satan are referenced in fictional religious text passages. One particular example stands out: a strange passage from a translation of an ancient book, portraying Jesus as a extraterrestrial being, sent to Earth to warn the people of the danger about Anti-God. After that, it’s never mentioned again for the rest of the movie. This reference to so-called “Space Jesus” leaves behind a sense of mystery, albeit a pretty surprising one.
These mythical stories are mixed with “explanations” of the existence of God and Satan, that they are invisible elements of subatomic particles, in which the anti-particle is Anti-God/Anti-Christ. It’s further strengthened by this excerpt from a monologue by the priest of the movie:
“It’s your disbelief that powers him. Your stubborn fate in common sense that allows this deception. He lives in the smallest parts of it. In the atoms, smaller, invisible. He lives in all of it. In the sum of its parts.”
All the movies talk about anti-matter, quantum physics and even tachyons (in a very interesting interpretation) may seem to some people as a laughable try to give quasi-scientific theological “explanations” of God and Satan. I see Prince of Darkness for what it is: a supernatural horror movie, apocalyptic, rich in its own mythology, and entertaining as hell.