God's Little Helpers
Forsaken is the fifth entry in the Prophecy franchise. Starting with Gregory Widen’s bizarrely satiric 1995 original, the movies feature angels waging a savage civil war in heaven, repeatedly trying to annihilate God’s favorite creation, mankind. Perhaps the most salient feature of the series is its presentation of Satan: not only is he charismatic and alluring, but he’s also a politically centered and tolerant wise man.
Recently released on DVD and made back to back with its predecessor, Forsaken features several of Uprising‘s key crew members (composer Joseph Loduca and director Joel Soisson), as well as actors (Kari Wuhrer and John Light). The fifth film in the series also deploys a marketable name, here Tony Todd, Candyman himself, as the bad angel. However, not even Todd’s terrifying presence can save this film from the mediocrity that characterizes most of Dimension’s horror fare. Lacking the ingenuity and moral ambivalence of Uprising, and running a meager 75 minutes, Forsaken feels more like an afterthought than a sequel.
For those who missed Uprising, Forsaken recaps the previous events during its main title sequence. That is, Allison (Wuhrer) is entrusted with the Lexicon, an arcane book that contains the entire history of the cosmos and constantly updates itself. She is warned that its infinite knowledge could be used as a terrifying weapon if it ever falls in the wrong hands. Enter the rebellious, high-ranking seraphim Stark (Todd), who has mobilized a small angelical army of thrones (angels in charge of menial jobs) to search for the Lexicon. Stark also recruits Dylan (Jason Scott Lee) to interrogate Allison, hoping that, under his painful torture, she will reveal the book’s location.
At first, it is quite puzzling that Stark, with all his unnatural powers, has to rely on an unreliable human to question a terrified girl. However, later on we learn that Stark is merely following protocol: he is not allowed to hurt Allison directly. As Satan (Light) explains, “The politics of angels, you see, are not so very different from those of men.”
This vague connection between human and heavenly politics is the film’s most interesting feature. While we never see the effects of the angelic war in heaven, Forsaken reminds us of the terrible consequences of unrestrained human politics. Shot in Romania, the film presents the city as an apocalyptic wasteland produced by the Nazi and Soviet military occupations. A funeral that takes place in a small rural town near Bucharest, includes a procession to the local church. Close-ups reveal the participants’ deep agony. According to director Joel Soisson in the DVD’s audio commentary, these are actual inhabitants of the town, who had countless friends and relatives killed by the oppressive governments and wars that afflicted the region.
Throughout The Prophecy films, angels are portrayed as evil, deceptive, and focused on personal agendas, in strong contrast to the way traditional popular culture has portrayed God’s little helpers. As Dylan tells Allison, “The cherubs? Don’t let that Hallmark shit fool you. They will rip your heart out first and bless you later.” Here the angels are evil, God never makes an appearance, and humans are unreliable and fragile. At the end of the film, once more, Satan remains the most truthful, helpful, conservative, and tolerant character. As Satan becomes mankind’s only hope for salvation, we might imagine we are in perilous times.