The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The WTF Happened to This Horror Movie series digs into The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, starring Christopher Walken

The episode of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? covering The Prophecy 3: The Ascent was Written and Edited by Jaime Vasquez, Narrated by Travis Hopson, Produced by Andrew Hatfield and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

After two movies, 1995’s The Prophecy and 1998’s The Prophecy II, Christopher Walken’s leading antagonist Gabriel undergoes a spiritual makeover that fans of the first two films couldn’t have seen coming. After back-to-back films of Walken setting objects – and people – on fire, among other acts of evil, archangel Gabriel proved just how sinister he could be. So, what made him change his tune? Find out what happened on WTF Happened to The Prophecy 3: The Ascent.

Christopher Walken was the first of a handful of actors to sign up for 1995’s The Prophecy. The stellar cast included Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, and Viggo Mortenson. The film told a fascinating supernatural story of archangel Gabriel coming down to earth to carry out his plan of turning Earth into Hell by combatting a Police Detective and a School teacher. On an 8 million dollar budget, it became a minor hit, earning 16 million in the US. Dimension moved forward with a sequel, betting that Walken’s involvement would equal a successful home video release. The wacky but endearing Prophecy II racked up a decent amount of online chatter and sold a respectable number of copies. With Walken being game to do a third entry, Dimension put the wheels in motion for The Prophecy 3 (watch it HERE).

The original Prophecy was written and directed by Highlander creator Gregory Widen. The sequel was co-written by horror screenwriter Matt Greenberg (who also wrote Halloween: H20, the Stephen King adaptation 1408, and the 2019 remake of Pet Sematary) and Greg Spence, who would also direct. At the time, Spence had one directing credit with Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering, but he went on to produce HBO heavyweights Game of Thrones and The Last of Us. For the third installment, screenwriting and directing duties were split. Carl Dupré and Joel Soisson penned the screenplay. They would team up again on the Hellraiser sequel, Hellworld. Soisson would also write future sequels; The Prophecy: Uprising and The Prophecy: Forsaken, as well as the Wes Craven-produced Dracula trilogy, which would be directed by The Prophecy 3’s director, Patrick Lussier.

The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) - WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

Lussier is a skilled talent behind some of the most iconic horror films of the last 30 years. As an editor, he worked on ’90s horror classics such as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Halloween: H20, and the original Scream trilogy. The Prophecy 3 was his directorial debut. After The Prophecy 3, he directed the 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine, episodes of TV show adaptations of horror franchises Scream and The Purge, among other works. More recently, he helmed the horror film Play Dead starring Bailee Madison and Jerry O’Connell.

The Prophecy 3 was released almost two years after its predecessor. It would focus on a nephilim (which is a half angel, half human) who is conceived and hunted in Part 2. Here, he’s hunted as an adult. The nephilim in question is Danyael Rosales (played by Dave Buzzotta). Danyael is a street preacher who believes that the universe is purposeless and random, ranting in his sermon that “Our lives are nothing but a chain of unrelated accidents. Get used to it.” Danyael is hunted by a doomsday prepping psychopath, and an archangel who’s just been sent to earth by Pyriel, an angel who plans to overrule God and subsequently all of mankind. They both want Danyael dead as he is the last hope for humanity.

Danyael holds a gathering in a tent with his sickeningly supportive girlfriend Maggie, and about 40 of his followers. The meeting proves dangerous, when the aforementioned psychopath, AKA, genre icon Brad Dourif, (simply known in the credits as “Zealot”) stands in front of the crowd and opens fire on Danyael, shooting him in the chest a whopping 13 times, more than doubling Dr. Loomis numbers. Back in Brad Dourif’s apartment, he talks to an unseen presence that is apparently the driving force behind Brad shooting Danyael. He’s rejected when pleading for another chance to kill Danyael. Then he is killed by this invisible force, which Brad considers to be an honor. And that’s the last we see of Brad Dourif in this movie, unfortunately.

We see another familiar face in Joseph, the county coroner (played by Steve Hytner in his third appearance of the franchise). A quick glance at Danyael’s bullet-riddled chest prompts Joseph to pronounce him dead. And a quick glance at his name reminds him of Danyael’s mother, Valerie Rosales, with whom Joseph had spoken to briefly in years prior when she was pregnant with Danyael. Joseph looks up Valerie’s records. It turns out, Danyael’s mother died from a crushing case of Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome. Valerie Rosales (played by Jennifer Beals in The Prophecy II) is given a similar treatment to Laurie Strode in Halloween 4, getting axed off-screen prior to the film’s events. Well, not literally axed, she was set on fire.

Danyael is taken to the morgue, but is very much alive. Because he’s part angel, and even more so because he’s a nephilim, Danyael is hard to kill, and can only die if his heart is destroyed. Like, thoroughly destroyed. Then stepped on. And run over just in case. This is why Charles Lee Ray blasted him 13 times and didn’t see it as overkill. Joseph catches Danyael up and walking, right before Danyael runs away. Joseph then meets the second entity that’s hunting Danyael, Archangel Zophael Jones (played by Vincent Spano, who I’ll be referring to as “Z” to avoid confusion with Gabriel, Danyael, and Pyriel. I could call him Jones, but he acts too robotic to be referred to with a human name). Joseph is so bewildered by the night’s events that he starts hitting the books. And hitting the booze. He aims to solve the bizarre mysteries regarding Danyael. On the plus side, he has Maggie drive him home, so at least he drinks somewhat responsibly.

The following day, Z tracks Danyael down at a Donut shop, of all places. Danyael is healing from being shot, which apparently causes a voracious appetite. Danyael eats about a dozen donuts and pours an entire sugar bowl into his coffee. Or as sugar addicts call it, Tuesday morning. Gabriel runs over Z, allowing Danyael to escape again. So it would appear Gabriel is human, but also some type of guardian angel to Danyael.

An altercation between Gabriel and Z results in some offbeat hilarity. After Z threatens his life, Gabriel awesomely shuts him down by saying, “Fried food can kill me. A mugger can kill me. You’re not so special down here, Jones.”

Z finds Danyael inside the tent where he was shot. They engage in a fight similar to the ones in the original and the sequel. The angels collide midair. Z spins and lands perfectly balanced on his feet, raising the serious question of why he’s not an Olympic figure skater. Danyael pins Z to the wall with what appears to be a steel pipe. He questions Z about a weird symbol drawn in blood that he found in Brad Dourif’s apartment. Z tells Danyael that it is a symbol of Pyriel, referring to him as the “next God.” Apparently Pyriel is supposed to be an ominous and deadly being, but his name just reminds me of Purell Hand Sanitizer, so I can’t take him seriously.

On a mission to find Pyriel in the desert, Danyael hurls a random man off of his motorcycle, takes his bike, and literally leaves him in the dust. I feel like he could’ve just as easily taken, say, a Toyota Corolla, but this was just too dramatic to resist.

In parts 1 and 2, Gabriel forces unwilling people to drive him around, as he couldn’t drive until this movie. Since driving is apparently a skill no archangel has, Z follows that tradition and has Maggie drive him to follow Danyael. When they catch up to Danyael in the desert, Z fights Maggie, trying to take control of the steering wheel, in an attempt to run Danyael over. But Danyael remains unharmed and Maggie’s car flips over. Danyael and Z fight again. Before he can destroy Danyael’s heart, Maggie shoots Z, despite her fragile condition. Danyael rips his heart out, killing him. Even though he’s distraught over Maggie, he must leave her behind to fight Pyriel so he can save her. And you know, the rest of mankind. Gabriel stays with a barely conscious Maggie.

Pyriel and Danyael give us some more angel-on-angel fighting. Suddenly Pyriel is struck by lightning, which I’m sure is just a coincidence. Gaining the upper hand, Danyael stabs Pyriel in the chest, defeating him.

A symbol on Gabriel’s neck reveals he’s an angel once again. He revives Maggie so she and Danyael can be together. Gabriel offers Danyael his perspective on Danyael’s belief that life is unjustly random. “It’s not a mindless, indifferent, blind universe. It never was. Get used to it.”

Despite its short runtime, The Prophecy 3 is quirky, uniquely charming and even poignant, especially in the last few scenes. Gabriel had to become what he was most jealous of in order to come full circle and appreciate humanity. He had to live in a world where he could risk getting hurt or killed or eating a questionable Big Mac. He had to become human. Though it took three movies, Gabriel receives a proper redemption arc.

The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) - WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The Prophecy 3 feels like a finale, as there are a few fulfilled arcs and some closure that includes callbacks to the original. Mary, the little girl who gets possessed and almost kidnapped in Part 1 shows up in Danyael’s dream. On his way to confront Pyriel, Danyael meets Mary (played by the same actress Moriah Shining Dove Snyder). She reveals that she had a dream about him, and that she believes he can defeat Pyriel. Even though she doesn’t seem to have any idea who Danyael is. Gabriel stops at the Halfway House Coffee Shop, a diner he’d gone to in the original. Madge (portrayed by Sandra Ellis Lafferty), the same person who waited on him before, waits on him again. The cameos feel reminiscent of Scream 3. But at least here, the cameos are of characters we’ve met before. No offense to the late, great Carrie Fisher. As mentioned, Steve Hytner returns as Joseph, the coroner. He’s once again the deliverer of odd news to a leading character, this time learning the importance of Danyael being a nephilim and who Pyriel and Zophael are, and explaining this to Maggie. Who probably normally wouldn’t believe him, but since her boyfriend is capable of easily surviving 13 bullet wounds, she’s a little more open-minded.

The Prophecy 3 scored a meager 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But in its defense, it received very few reviews from critics, likely due to its direct-to-video release, and the fact that it’s a horror sequel. Critics probably felt it was too lowbrow to review. Also on Rotten Tomatoes, it scored a 40% audience approval rating, and a 5.4 out of 10 from users on IMDb.

While the film shows its budget and age, it wastes no time, breezing through its story in an hour and 21 minutes. Walken carries this film on his back – or on his wings, I should say. I would say he carries the trilogy on his wings, but there’s some debate on Viggo Mortenson possibly out-Walken-ing Walken in the original.

The Prophecy 3: The Ascent is a solid ending for Gabriel. Here, our leading archangel has some heroic moments and redeems himself in a sugary sweet one-eighty. BUT he did get to have a lot of fun as an evil archangel in The Prophecy 1 and 2. Which version of Gabriel do you prefer? Evil or good? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for watching.

A couple of the previous episodes of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? can be seen below. To see more, head over to our JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.