A group of hooded figures gather around a statue of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.
"What the fuck?" a bystander exclaims, capturing the event on a shaky camera from a nearby window. One of the figures' cloaks is removed to reveal a woman dressed all in white. With ritualistic zeal, another holds a knife above her, and brings it down.
"Fuck! Shit! Fuck! Shit!" says our eloquent narrator. As he runs, we're left with a final image: a mural depicting the ATLAS detector, an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.
Hysterical stories abound of apocalyptic goings-on at CERN, the home of the world's most powerful particle accelerator—but it's not often they're supported by video. A short clip of an apparent "human sacrifice" at the international physics lab now has the internet all in a tizz.
The film looks about as real as a high school drama club's unimaginative response to Eyes Wide Shut. (Obviously, it's fake).
A report from the Guardian and Agence France Presse cites a CERN spokeswoman as confirming that the video was shot on CERN grounds, but "without official permission or knowledge." She blamed the ill-judged spoof on scientific visitors who "let their humour go too far."
In a press statement, CERN states that the video is "a work of fiction showing a contrived scene." It continues, "The video was filmed from an office building; strict safety systems are in place to prevent any unauthorised access to technical and experimental facilities. CERN does not condone this kind of spoof, which breaches CERN's professional guidelines, and is currently carrying out an internal investigation."
We can tell from the footage that it takes place between CERN buildings 39 and 40, where a Lord Shiva statue, a gift from India, has stood since 2004. The mural of the ATLAS detector is located inside building 40, suggesting our "bystander" was positioned there. The cameraman sounds male and British. The cloaked figures appear to wear trainers.
Quentin King, a CERN researcher who is a member of CERN's "Open Your Eyes" filmmaking club, said the video was nothing to do with them. "We've made short films, mostly fiction, but never this kind of 'faux reality' thing," he wrote in an email. He added, "Students do this kind of thing—but it's regrettable from CERN's point of view, since there are always lots of crazy conspiracy theories out there and this kind of video could be taken seriously."
Quite how the video came about is unknown. Spooooooky.