There’s always something under the earth. In Camp Santo’s Firewatch, it’s a body in a cave. In John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, it’s the devil in a church. WHICH IS BETTER?
VISUALS. Prince of Darkness has a terrifying green swirly thing and staticky tachyon messages and a bit where Alice Cooper stabs someone to death with half a bicycle. Firewatch is stark and rufous and every line is vast, as if you had dreamed of a forest and woke to find it was the arch of the sky. FIREWATCH WINS. FIREWATCH AHEAD.
SOUNDTRACK. The Firewatch soundtrack is very beautiful. The Prince of Darkness soundtrack is the underbeat to my dreams, and I play it on Stitching Nights to warn my daughter not to open the door when she sees the blue light beneath. PRINCE OF DARKNESS WINS. NECK AND NECK.
DENOUEMENT PLAUSIBILITY: In Prince of Darkness, the antagonist turns out to be the Devil, who’s been locked in a tube for a million years. In Firewatch, it’s a random man in a cave who has been sneaking around ninja-like when you’re not looking, making electronic devices and pretending to be a secret scientific project and things. PRINCE OF DARKNESS WINS. PRINCE OF DARKNESS AHEAD.
WORDS. Prince of Darkness has Victor Wong and Donald Pleasence! And about a dozen rather earnest character actors. They do good work, and the script has some preposterously cracking lines. Firewatch has Rich Sommers and Cissy Jones focusing a furious beam of talent on funny, convincing, moving dialogue. FIREWATCH WINS. NECK AND NECK.
DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY. On the Prince of Darkness commentary track, John Carpenter explains how Donald Pleasence was late on the first day because he got lost on the way to the film. He explains how in the shot of a cultist running past a brick wall with a pair of scissors, they focused on the upraised pair of scissors and drove a truck past in the background with a brick wall stage flat on it. And he explains how he drained the mercury out of the hydraulic camera machinery to make a mirror-portal to the realm of the Anti-God, and made his actors poke their fingers in it. The Firewatch commentary doesn’t have these things. PRINCE OF DARKNESS WINS!
FINAL SCORE: PRINCE OF DARKNESS 3, FIREWATCH 2. PRINCE OF DARKNESS WINS, SCIENTIFICALLY.