‘The greatest discovery in physics could be our last.’
Decay is a 2012 British horror feature film by Luke Thompson, set at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. It was created on a budget of a mere $3,225 and lensed over a period of two years by Thompson and his fellow physicists. The movie features Zoë Hatherell, Tom Procter, Stewart Martin-Haugh, Sara Mahmoud and William P. Martin.
The resulting film was released online for free under a Creative Commons license. Decay was premiered on November 29, 2012, and centres around the idea of the Large Hadron Collider transforming scientists into zombies.
Thompson, a physics doctoral student, came up with the idea of the film while he was walking through the maintenance tunnels at CERN and began thinking that it would be a good location for a horror movie. In an interview with Wired, he stated that the film was initially started for fun, but that it was also an opportunity to “do some satirical commentary on various aspects of people’s perceptions of science”.
Decay follows several students who discover that the maintenance crew of the Large Hadron Collider have been transformed into zombies after the particle accelerator malfunctions. The students must try to evade the zombies while running through CERN’s maintenance tunnels.
Thompson began filming in 2010 and it took two years to complete Decay, with the film’s crew having to borrow cameras and create special effects on a limited budget.
Research facility CERN gave permission for Decay to be filmed at the research centre with the stipulation that they not film in any of the facility’s more sensitive areas.
“Generic it may be but good use of the unique location makes this worth a watch and the non-stereotypical portrayal of
working scientists is refreshing.” MJ Simpson, 21st Century British Horror Films, Volume 2: White Settlers and Women in Black, 2021
“Decay is totally ridiculous, in the best sense of the word. The 75-min, $3,500 movie is remarkably well-made, given the creative team’s lack of experience. It’s studded with all the gratuitous gore, cheap shocks, and absurd plot twists that zombie fans crave. Science nerds and those who love them will bask in its shameless use of sci-fi clichés like ‘the results are inconclusive at best,’ and ‘my research is too important!'” Slate