The world which started to end in the 1998 film Apocalypse continues to end in its first sequel, 1999’s Revelation!
Revelation beings three months after the end of Apocalypse. The people of the world worship the president of the European Union, Franco Macalousso (Nick Mancuso, replacing Sam Bornstein from the first film). The world is ruled over by O.N.E., which stands for One Nation Earth. Those who oppose Macalousso’s claim to the messiah are known as “The Haters.” At the start of the film, a school bus has been bombed and all of the children aboard have been killed. O.N.E. claims that the Haters bombed the bus but counterterrorist agent Thorold Stone (Jeff Fahey) comes across evidence that it was actually an inside job. When Macalousso’s second-in-command, Len Parker (David Roddis), attempts to murder Thorold, he’s forced to go on the run.
The Day of Wonders is approaching. On this day, everyone on Earth is to put on a VR headset. Macalousso hasn’t made clear what the headset will do but everyone’s planning on doing it because Macalousso has told them to do it and everyone on the planet does what Macalousso says. Thorold tracks down Willy Spino (Tony Nappa), a wheelchair-bound programmer (in the 90s sense of the term, of course) who is somehow involved with setting up The Day of Wonders. Willy says that O.N.E. is not the benevolent organization that everyone thinks it is. You would have thought that Thorald would have figured that out after Parker attempted to kill him but Thorald remains convinced that Maclousso is the messiah and that his wife and daughter previously vanished not because they were Christians but because they were abducted by aliens.
Anyway, long story short, it turns out that Willy’s stepsister is Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis), the news anchor from the first film. Helen is now a leader in the Hater underground. While she tries to convince Thorold that Macalousso is actually the Devil, Willy spends his time flirting with a cynical blind woman named Cindy (Carol Alt). Both Willy and Cindy find themselves tempted to put on the VR headset, just to see what the Day of Wonders will hold for them….
Revelation is a marked improvement on Apocalypse though, considering how shoddy the production of that first film was, that’s really not saying much. As opposed to the first film’s stiff performances and reliance on stock footage, Revelation features actual actors, actual sets, and an actual script. There’s even a few action sequences and some attempts at intentional humor. That said, if you’re a nonbeliever, Revelation isn’t going to convert you and, about halfway through the film, all of the action stops so that Thorold and Hannah can have a very long discussion about faith and whether or not God should prove his existence by turning over a glass of water.
Like the first film, Revelation actually works better as a political allegory than a religious tract. Today, it’s kind of easy to laugh at the bulky computers that fill O.N.E.’s headquarters and the scenes where Willy carefully explains what virtual reality and computer viruses are serve as a reminder that, apparently, there was a time when all of this stuff was still viewed as being somehow exotic. I mean, it’s easy to be snarky about this movie. But let’s be honest — it’s probably easier today than it was when this film was first released to imagine a world where everyone blindly does whatever the government tells them to do. And the idea of a group running a false flag operation — like blowing up a school bus and blaming it on unseen enemies — no longer seems quite as outlandish as it perhaps did it 1999.