Though far from the most astute scholar of physics or zombie cinema, I have to believe that this marks the first time physicists have made a contribution to the field. But perhaps only they would think to set their movie inside the Large Hadron Collider, the European Organization for Nuclear Research’s particle accelerator of record-setting size and power. (Hands up if you even knew one could go inside it.) The device has received much press for its potential to either prove or disprove the existence of a predicted elementary particle called the Higgs boson, and Decay speculates about one particular consequence of this high-profile scientific quest: what if the Higgs boson turns people into zombies? Doing his Ph.D. at the University of Manchester, writer-director Luke Thompson realized that — and here I quote the press release — “the tunnels under CERN would be ideal for a zombie film.” £2000, a couple borrowed cameras, and a great deal of scavenged props and improvised filmmaking gear later, we can watch the whole thing free online.
Thompson’s entry into the zombie canon follows “a small group of students (played by physicists) after a disastrous malfunction in the world’s biggest particle accelerator. As they try desperately to escape from the underground maintenance tunnels, they are hunted by the remains of a maintenance team, who have become less than human.” This use of actual young physicists running around the actual nooks and crannies of CERN lends the project a scrappy realism, and the practice of making do with any resource at hand has a proud history in zombie filmmaking. Recall that George A. Romero, shooting the genre-defining Night of the Living Dead (also free to watch on the internet), could only raise $6,000 at a time, which forced him to find horror wherever he could. Like every strong zombie picture, Decay not only operates on meager resources but performs a certain social satire as well, in this case to do with how the nonscientific world perceives science. But no need to take it too seriously: “This film has not been authorized or endorsed by CERN,” reads the first title card. “It is purely a work of fiction.” Whew.