Saturday, October 29, 2016

Only now does it occur to me... THE PROPHECY

Only now does it occur to me... how in the hell did they succeed in making THE PROPHECY so boring?

Let's begin at the beginning: this is an apocalyptic, supernatural horror movie (from the writer of HIGHLANDER, no less), apparently popular enough to spawn four sequels, starring Christopher Walken as the Archangel Gabriel,

a character with bizarrely 'wig-like' slicked-back hair, who is defined mostly by his propensity for perching on things

and his profound, nearly Trumpian sniffing:

who is probably based on the "Angel of Death" character from a Madonna music video.

In "Bad Girl" (1993), Walken's just sniffin'

and perchin' all over the place.

Did I mention we also also have Eric Stolz (as the Archangel "Simon") looking all Jesus-y and

also perching on lots of things, like the best of them.

We have Elias Koteas lending serious pathos as a priest-turned-detective:

SEINFELD's "Kenny Bania" (Steve Hytner) in an oddly serious role:

Adam Goldberg dealing with some serious limbo/substance abuse:

Virginia Madsen looking seriously sad all the time:

and Amanda Plummer doing some serious gurgling in a hospital bed:

Wait a minute, why is this all so serious?!  This is a movie about creepy-wacky Archangels that sniff and perch on things, it should be kind of fun, right?

When we're given visions of a battle in heaven, I was reminded of ARMY OF DARKNESS

and immediately wished that I was watching ARMY OF DARKNESS instead.  Or at least TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT.

By the time Viggo Mortensen shows up as Satan

Two of Cronenberg's faves sharing a tender, sniffin' moment––Viggo (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, EASTERN PROMISES) and Elias (CRASH).

(also perching on things, come to think of it)
we should be having peak fun––it's so patently ridiculous, that no amount of overwrought, inspirational voiceover; no amount of clumsily-delivered Biblical exposition should be able to ruin our fun. And yet. And yet.

Allow me to quote a line from THE PROPHECY:

"And in the end, I think it must be about faith, and if faith is a choice, then it can be lost––for a man, an angel, or the devil himself. And if faith means never completely understanding God's plan, then maybe understanding just a part of it ––our part––is what it is to have a soul. And maybe in the end, that's what being human is, after all." 

Dear lord, I believe I've stumbled upon the problem. I wanted this to feel like PRINCE OF DARKNESS or HELLRAISER or DEMON KNIGHT––hell, I would have even taken END OF DAYS... but instead, watching this movie feels like going to church. THE PROPHECY is not a horror movie. It's a sanctimonious Hallmark Channel drama masquerading as a horror movie. THE PROPHECY tricks you into thinking you're buying tickets to a Black Sabbath concert, but really it's a 'hip' Christian rock festival called Whack Sabbath. THE PROPHECY approaches you at the mall, and you think, wow, you're getting a coupon for a free Orange Julius, but really you're being handed a pamphlet that asks, "Are you saved?" THE PROPHECY is a breaking news alert about "War!" and after you scramble to click the link, you see they mean the War on Christmas. PROPHECY is a better movie, and PROPHECY is a movie about mutant bears directed by a blacked-out drunk John Frankenheimer. I could go on. But I won't. Um, Amen.

[Also worth mentioning: there are a number of elements (including the Weinsteins) that this movie shares in common with Kevin Smith's DOGMA, and while the flavors couldn't be more different, I feel pretty confident that THE PROPHECY served as at least a partial inspiration.]

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