"Relevations," a six-part TV mini-series comprised of one-hour episodes, is as well crafted, produced and acted as any modern movie blockbuster.
Based loosely, but definitely not literally, on Biblical prophesies depicting the End of Days, the story, (by David Seltzer) builds steadily from hour to hour until the thrilling and truly terrifying climax -- pitting the ultimate good against the ultimate evil with the future of the entire world hanging in the balance.
The Apocolyptic tale unfolds through the experiences of Dr. Richard Massey, (brilliantly portrayed by Bill Pullman) whose daughter Lucinda, Lucy, was brutally murdered by a satanist in a ritualistic sacrafice to the devil in which he cut out the child's heart while she was alive. (In a VERY wise move, viewers are never shown the murder, but only learn about it and its aftermath.)
The murder, and subsequent arrest of the non-repentent killer Isaiah Haden (portrayed in a chilling performance by Michael Massee) triggers a series of international events that supposedly coincide with the Christian Biblical prophesies describing the ultimate battle between God and Satan. Especially chronicled is the "Second Coming" of Christ, who is believed by Christians to one day to return to earth to vanquish evil forever and literally end the physical world.
While the story is based on a Biblical foreshadowing, the core event depicted in the series is not: the apparent second virgin-birth of Christ. While Biblical theologians have debated End of Days prophesies since they were first translated, there has been little argument among Christians that Christ will not return as an infant born of a second virgin mother. Nonetheless, this fictionalization in "Revelations" does nothing to blunt its force or diminish its entertainment value.
In a country where polls have repeatedly shown that people have more trouble believing in God than in the devil and evil, I found this mini-series especially poignant and even profound.
Presented in a wide-screen format that increases the movie feel to the series, locations around the world were used to provide an authentication seldom found in TV productions. Blessed with a stellar cast of outstanding actors, the series fearlessely depicts its horrifying vision, replete with ever-building satanic-spawned violence and mature religious themes that have seldom, if ever, been depicted on the small screen.
In the series, Dr. Massey is aided by Sister Josepha Montefiore (played with subtle force and compelling humanity by Natashcha McElhone), who is a member of a Catholic group outside the sanction of the Vatican who believe that the Christ child has again been born. Sister Josepha, along with Massey, travel the world in search of the infant, and eventually find his mother, who claims to have been a virgin when he was born.
While the duo look for the baby Christ, Haden amasses an army of santanic followers from among the inmates where he has been imprisoned. Demonstrating truly supernatural powers, Haden eventually escapes and begins an all-out assault on the forces of Heaven.
Dr. Massey's former stepson, Hawk, becomes an unwitting pawn in the cosmic drama when he is kidnapped by Haden's dominion to become the new sacrifice to Satan. Look for a frightingly wonderful performance by Fred Durst, (front man for the band Limp Biscuit) who protrays Ogden, a bloodthrusty satanist who helped kidnap and torture Hawk.
Also providing especially noteworthy performances are Finonnula Flanagan, who plays Mother Francine, a member of Sister Josepha's order, and John Rhys-Davies, who plays Professor Lampley, a colleague of Dr. Massey's.
Flanagan is riviting in her role after she and the others of her order try to protect a young girl who was struck by lightening then miraculously begins prophesizing in ancient languages and foretelling the coming of the End of Days while in a fatal coma.
Eventually, Flanagan's character "releases" the child through a mercy killing (an act seldom depicted on TV) as agents of satan's army attack their complex with murderous force leaving a trail of corpses. The satanists take the child and also cut out her heart (off-camera), but she has already gone to heaven, thanks to Mother Francine's very controversial actions.
Obviously, this is not a movie for the squeamish, but to its credit, the bulk of the violence is merely described; or if depicted, generally performed at the edge of the camera or only the results are shown. Nonetheless, there should be a strong warning as the series does build its violence to a hypnotic timbre by the end.
Somewhat similar to a religious (but much more frightening) Indiana Jones, the series is incredibly spellbinding and may leave viewers not only breathless but perhaps re-evaluating their own religious beliefs and commitments to ensure evil NEVER secures a lasting stronghold that will doom our planet.