The Prophecy (1995)
(18) Running time: 98 minutes
Director: Gregory Widen
Writer: Gregory Widen
Starring: Christopher Walken, Eric Stoltz, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Generally, religion and horror are the perfect mix, just look at the Omen or the Exorcist. Religion can add real depth to a horror, and whether you’re a religious person or not, it does add some substance and creepiness that a simple slasher film cannot quite get right. Religious horrors are dripping with mystery and suspense, and tend to be carried along by an interesting, and damned intelligent story.
The Prophecy lives up to the religious horror expectations, and surpasses them, and proves that straight to dvd (or video, as it was when released) often give us some real gems that go on to gain cult status, much like this has. Now, I’m not a religious person, however, I do get drawn into these types of films, good vs. evil, God vs. the Devil, I find them interesting, and if done well, I find it’s an idea that possibly could happen? Who knows, but the story on offer here is superb. Gabriel, one of Gods Angels, wants to come to Earth and take the soul of a dead war general, as it’s known to be the blackest soul on Earth. Gabriel wants to start a war with God. Another Angel, Simon, is sent to Earth to hide the soul. Oh, and even the Devil makes an appearance because “there can only be one Hell”.
A young Elias Koteas plays a former priest who lost his faith in a shocking opening scene as he sees the Angels from Heaven being tortured. He is now a homicide detective, and Simon visits him in the hope he can help. Simon is played with real ease by Eric Stoltz, who pretty much fell off the radar after the brilliant Killing Zoe. Here he plays an Angel with a calmness about him, a safeness that he will get the job done with the least amount of hassle. His early fight with one of Gabriels Angels is totally unexpected, this sudden burst of violence that, for its time, was pretty fuckin amazing! Back to the opening of the film for a minute, and to reiterate the strength of religion in horrors, the film opens with some Monks singing Church songs, whilst we see the Priests lining up to offer themselves to God, all the while the camera brilliantly moves around statues in the Church, it just sets the tone perfectly.
About 20 minutes or so in, the real star of the film makes his entrance, casually sitting, waiting, sat like a bird of prey ready to attack. Yes, Gabriel, played with complete perfection by Christopher Walken, has arrived and he wants his soul. Walken is superb, his voice is sinister, disturbing and unsettling, and he knows when to use it. He casually roams around looking for Simon, who is trying to hide this soul. He sets fire to a dead Angel just by blowing him a kiss, he also has a human sidekick, desperate to die, but Gabriel won’t let him until his job is done. He has some superb lines that should go down in history as some of the best “you know how you got that dent on your upper lip? Before you were born, i told you a secret, and then I went shh” as he makes the quiet sign. One of his best is “I’m an Angel, I kill firstborns while their Mothers watch, I turn cities into salt. I even, when i feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why”. Seriously, how great is that!
Yes, this is Walkens show, but you have to give credit to Elias Koteas, Eric Stoltz and Virginia Madsen for doing a fantastic job, and also to a very young Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer himself. The Prophecy is a superb horror, which has a great story, some decent shocks and a nice level of gore which is not too much. The only thing that really lets it down is some of the effects are a bit crap, but hey, it would seem the director put most of his effort into creating a great story and getting the best from his actors, which he has done to brilliant effect. A straight to dvd classic in every sense of the word.