Sunday, January 20, 2013
So asks our protagonist Thomas Daggett at one point during The Prophecy (1995). Later, as if to prove this point, our villain Gabriel says, "I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas 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."
Between these two quotes, one can grasp The Prophecy's style and appeal. Equal parts police procedural and apocalyptic thriller, the film is simultaneously grandiose and subtle in its scope, using characters and dialogue to suggest nothing less than a Biblical war in Heaven as the battle extends to Earth and humanity gets drawn into the conflict. Horror movies often work best when they suggest absolute terror and awe, a concept understood by The Prophecy's helmer, writer-director Gregory Widen.
With a subject matter and themes about angels, faith, wars in heaven, and fire and brimstone, The Prophecy threatens to veer off into campy excess and pretense, but the performers really go a long way to selling it and making it captivating. One of the criticisms I've had against Christopher Walken is how rarely he seems to act. In a lot of movies, he just seems to be playing some variation of the kooky Christopher Walken persona, but The Prophecy actually affords him the opportunity to act, and he hits it out of the park. Yes, he's still weird, but it makes sense here because he's playing a being that in many ways is superior to man (whom he refers to as "talking monkeys."). He makes a number of larger-than-life pronouncements (see above) and maintains a soft-spoken menace. He also has a cheeky sense of humor, taunting the human characters on a number of occasions and reanimating the dead to serve him because he hasn't learned how to drive. This really is one of his best roles.
The horror presented in The Prophecy is one of suggestion: what will happen if Gabriel succeeds in taking the dark soul? The implications of what he has in store for mankind are eerie as are the not-so veiled threats Lucifer offers about what happens after death. Next to these supernatural beings, humans are completely at their mercy, and we're left wondering just what these fallen angels are capable of. Widen also works in some stunning imagery: the skeleton of an angel in the desert, Gabriel causing the corpse of an underling to ignite, and visions of angels being slaughtered. Disappointingly, this is the only feature Widen directed.