Chiller: Prophecy

Review by David J. Howe

It is a long time since I have seen anything as instantly enjoyable on television than the first episode of ITV's new series of horror plays, screened under the generic title Chiller. From the opening title sequence of some sort of alien monstrosity screaming out at you before its face melts away, you know that you're in for a good time.

The first drama to be screened was Prophecy, adapted from Peter James’ novel by Stephen Gallagher, and the tale of eerie coincidence and death rattled along at a tremendous pace, leaving the viewer breathless. At the end of it, I found myself wondering whether I had just watched a 90 minute film, rather than a 50 minute drama, such was the amount of characterisation and plot that Gallagher managed to cram in.

Of course there were some doubtful moments – expecting the cast to play themselves five years previously didn’t work for me, and it did stretch the imagination a little to see Nigel Havers dating Sophie Ward when she was quite possibly young enough to be his daughter – but these were far overshadowed by the superb direction and lighting that brought the best out of the script and the artistes.

A particular favourite moment for me was the counterpointing of the swinging demolition ball above the derelict cafe with the swinging incense burner held by the priest as he attempted to exorcise the ghost of the Halkins.

A superb start to what will hopefully be a memorable series.

Broadcast on ITV on 9 March 1995.

This review was originally published in 1995, in the March/April issue of the BFS Newsletter (#19.2).