The ProphecyThe Prophecy is a 1995 American fantasy-action-horror-thriller film starring Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, and Viggo Mortensen. It was written and directed by Gregory Widen, and is the first motion picture of The Prophecy series including four sequels. The film tells the story of the Archangel Gabriel (Walken) and his search for an evil soul on Earth, and a police detective (Koteas) who unknowingly becomes caught in the middle of an angelic civil war.
PlotThomas Dagget, a Catholic seminary student, loses his faith when he sees visions of a war between angels. Years later, Thomas is a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Two angels fall to Earth: Simon briefly enters Thomas' home and warns him of coming events, while Usiel, a lieutenant of the Archangel Gabriel, is killed in an altercation with Simon. Investigating the disturbance, Thomas finds in Simon's apartment the obituary of recently deceased Korean War veteran Colonel Arnold Hawthorne, and a thesis about angels which Thomas himself wrote in seminary. Meanwhile, in Chimney Rock, Arizona, Simon finds Hawthorne awaiting burial and sucks his soul out of his body.
The medical examiner informs Thomas that Usiel's body has no eyes, no bones, hermaphroditism, and the blood chemistry of a fetus. His personal effects include an ancient Bible, with an expanded Book of Revelation that describes a second war in Heaven and prophecy that a "dark soul" will be found on Earth and used as a weapon.
Gabriel arrives on Earth. Needing a human helper, Gabriel catches a disappointed Jerry, a suicide, in the moment of his death. Jerry retrieves Usiel's belongings from the police station while Gabriel destroys Usiel's body in the morgue. Finding Hawthorne's obituary, Gabriel and Jerry head for Chimney Rock. Before Gabriel arrives, at the local reservation school Simon hides Hawthorne's soul in a little Native American girl, Mary, who immediately falls ill and is cared for by her teacher, Katherine.
After finding Usiel's burnt body, Thomas hurries to Chimney Rock. When Gabriel realizes Hawthorne's soul is missing, he confronts Simon. Hawthorne's soul will tip the balance to whichever side possesses it, and a win for the rebellious angels would make Heaven like Hell with Earth in its thrall. Gabriel tortures Simon, but he refuses to reveal its location, so Gabriel kills him. Mary shows signs of possession by Hawthorne, recounting an incident from Hawthorne's harrowing war experiences in first-person perspective. Meanwhile, Thomas examines Simon's remains and questions Katherine. In Hawthorne's home, he finds evidence of war crimes. Thomas visits a church to reflect in and is shaken by a verbal confrontation with Gabriel.
At school, Katherine finds Gabriel questioning the children. After he leaves, she rushes to Mary's home and finds Thomas. As Mary's condition worsens, Katherine takes Thomas to an abandoned mine where she had seen Gabriel. They find angelic script and experience together a terrible vision of the angelic war. Returning to Mary, they find Gabriel and Jerry. Thomas kills Jerry, while Katherine distracts Gabriel when her wild gunshot misses him and blows up Mary's trailer home. They take Mary to a Native American site to be exorcised. In a hospital, Gabriel recruits a new unwilling assistant, Rachael, just as she dies of a terminal illness.
Lucifer confronts Katherine and tells her that "other angels" have taken up this war against mankind, and since then, no human souls have been able to enter Heaven. He knows Gabriel plans to use Hawthorne's soul to overthrow the obedient angels. He also knows that if Gabriel wins the war under his influence Heaven will ultimately devolve into another Hell, which Lucifer considers "one Hell too many". Lucifer then appears to Thomas and advises him to use Gabriel's lack of faith against him. When Gabriel arrives and attempts to disrupt the exorcism ritual, Thomas kills Rachael, and he and Katherine fight Gabriel. Gabriel defeats them and moves to kill Katherine.
Lucifer appears, encouraging the Natives to complete the exorcism. Lucifer confronts Gabriel, telling him that his war is based upon arrogance, which is evil, making it Lucifer's territory. Lucifer tells Gabriel he needs to go home and rips out his heart. Simultaneously Mary expels out Hawthorne's soul. The "enemy ghost" starts to attack Thomas and Katherine, but a bright light from Heaven appears and destroys it. Lucifer asks Thomas and Katherine to "come home" with him, but they refuse. Lucifer drags Gabriel to Hell. As morning comes, Thomas comments on the nature of faith and what it means to truly be human.
ReceptionRotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 43% of 23 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 5.1/10. Eric Hansen of Variety called it "daring and unique on the one hand, but hard to swallow on the other". Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that the film is bad enough to end the recent proliferation of religious thrillers. David Kronke of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Though Widen proves himself capable enough behind the camera, his script here is simply too loopy for him to render it in any credible fashion." Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Yet for all its goofiness, director Widen has made a film with some genuinely creepy moments." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated it D− and described it as "an occult freakshow so inert it seems to have been pasted together out of stock footage".
It has since become a cult film.