Thursday, 31 October 2013
Prince of Darkness
The complete unravelling of Judeo-Christian power structures rendered as a series of scuffles between wimpy grad students. Prince of Darkness finds the apocalypse during a burn-out study hall weekend, in which promising physics pupils are gathered to pore over a seven million year old cannister full of anti-life. Easily the least kinetic of John Carpenter's film, Prince of Darkness is instead a prowling mood piece designed to stress unreality. Action is threadbare and unconvincing; the finale little more than playground shoving. Rather than hobble the film though, this authentic clumsiness informs it. It's just another misshapen piece in this queasy whole.
Prince of Darkness is about an idea so big, the protagonists can't process it. If a two thousand year old manuscript is to be believed, there is no celestial structure in place. God doesn't exist as we know him, there is no heaven or afterlife. Humanity is completely alone and the heart of destruction resides in the basement of a skid row church. To deny us hope, Carpenter fills his film full of anti-stars. Although presentable, everybody seems marred in one way or another. There's no obvious avatar of salvation. No sinewy muscles or keen mind to beat a path. Success is achieved accidentally, and opportunistically. The collective muddles through, but there is enough trace failure to unravel everything later.