Friday, October 3, 2014

Ten Statements About....THE PROPHECY (1995)

"I'm a tweety bird...CAW! CAW!"
“Do you know how you got that dent, in your top lip? Way back, before you were born, I told you a secret, then I put my finger there and I said "Shhhhh!"

1) I love the care and attention with which director Gregory Widen maintains his mythology for this film, especially his ‘biology’ of the angels within.  Something as simple as the way the preferred state of rest for angels is perching like a bird adds a degree of otherness that gives the film something extra.

2) Yes, this film is carried mainly by Christopher Walken being Christopher Walken...but the intriguing thing is that this is Walken at the beginning of that phase in his career.  As such, Gabriel is a fully rounded character full of rage, pride, arrogance and jealousy with only peeks of the Walken-as-Walken quirkiness coming through (I’m looking at you, trumpet lessons scene...)

3) What I wouldn’t give for a film which has Viggo Mortensen’s Lucifer front and center.  Every second he’s on screen in the third act, your eyes are drawn to him.  And thankfully the script never loses sight of how Lucifer is motivated solely by selfish reasons.

(Hell, what I wouldn’t give for a film where Mortensen’s Lucifer and Peter Stomare’s First Of The Fallen from Constantine hang out together....)

4) I honestly don’t know if the whole Amerind aspect of the story has any point whatsoever.  I suspect you could take out everything related to the reservation and still have a full story.  Maybe it’s because Widen had cast Moriah Shining Dove Snyder (who should be called Shining Teeth considering how bright those choppers are) in the central role of Mary.  Given how limited Ms. Snyder’s acting range is, maybe the film would have been served better to have gone with a different actress and dispense with the gratuitious Amerind Ritualizing.
"He ain't I ain't taking him to Mendy's!"

5) The thing that always bothers me about Elias Koteas as a leading man is how generic he is.  There’s nothing wrong with his performance per se--there are a couple of moments where he acquits himself quite well, in fact.  But he tends to melt into the background and remind me of other, better actors.  In this film in particular he keeps blurring into a sort of lumpen version of Adrien Brody crossed with Robert deNiro.

6) This film needed Steve Hynter’s Joseph.  The first half of this film is so dour that we needed someone like him to provide much needed comic relief.  Hynter plays Joseph well, as someone secure enough in his intelligence that he can goof a bit...and if the facts are the facts, he won’t disbelieve that.

7) I don’t know who the person was who thought Virginia Madsen would look good as a brunette is, but he needs to be stopped.

8)  ...although I wonder if my response to Madsen is due not to her appearance, but because her character Katherine is all over the place.  Widen’s script seems to force so many aspects on her--she’s weirdly placed in the role of surrogate mother to Mary, she’s got this teacher thing going, she has to be the love interest, she has to be an exposition dump--that she becomes diffuse.  Unlike Koteas’ Thomas, who does have a single strong throughline, Katherine is everything to everyone, and becomes nothing to no one.
"And then David Cronenberg snuck up behind me and
whispered 'Boo!'  He does that a lot."

9) I don’t know how I feel about Eric Stoltz’s Samuel.  I get the impression he’s trying to be a bad ass at times, and he fails...but there are other moments where he’s called on to be a manipulator, especially when he reaches Chimney Rock, and there he excels.  If Widen had lessened the former and emphasized the later, we might have ended up with a more effective character.

10) It’s kind of sad that this was Widen’s only theatrical film as a director.  Throughout this film, there are lots of striking visual moments that indicate that he could’ve been a real contender, even if he stuck to genre filmmaking.

Overall...a rather striking horror film both visually and narratively in spite of its flaws.  Granted, I wish that Dimension hadn’t tried to force a franchise out of this one little gem (four sequels!), but taken on it’s own it’s worth a watch.

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