review: It's a chill wind that blows no good

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The Independent Culture
The proper ambition of a supernatural tale should be to freeze the blood in your veins but Chiller (ITV), in step with the more contemporary forms of horror, seems just as interested in making blood flow. You're not very far into "Prophecy" before the first victim takes a dive, propelled by a passing car through a plate-glass window. Her head ends up an impractical distance from the rest of her body and the blood in between is then prettily dappled by the sprinkler system. Is this frightening? Not much, but it will satisfy the horror fans' sanguinary sense of style, and Chiller is much more about meeting expectations than confounding them.

The cause of all the trouble, for instance, is that notorious alarm-clock for the undead, a ouija board session, conducted by a mini-bus full of reckless young people underneath an Italian caf. They're just having some spooky fun, poor fools, undeterred by the leaves swirling ominously around the cellar or by the message they receive -"Non Omnis Moriar" ("I shall not entirely die").

It looks like they've got away with it too, though the beautiful Francesca soon witnesses that grisly decapitation and the title that follows ("Five years later") suggests that something really nasty is biding its time. Sure enough the participants start to go down one by one. First Francesca spots one old friend outside the British Museum, doing a passable imitation of Uncle Fester and refusing to meet her eye - he's dying of leukemia. She learns that another has been shot by muggers in Washington and yet another has been struck blind. Francesca has bad dreams and wakes to find that somebody has snipped the heads off her roses and arranged them on the carpet. She takes all this very much in her stride, I must say. Indeed, even after she has discovered that her new boyfriend's family motto is "Non Omnis Moriar" and that the black sheep of the family was a satanist and paedophile she retains the same dreamy equability. It later turns out she's been possessed by the evil Marquis, though she's so vacant in the early part of the film that you can perfectly understand why he might have thought it was all right to move in - if ever there was a legitimate case for squatting, Francesca is it. "Prophecy" has some fairly unabashed fun with the genre fixtures - eerie wind effects, sinister staring children appearing in all the wrong places, but it had too much plot on its hands to ever quite get round to frightening you.

The last episode of Hearts and Minds (C4) completed Drew's miserable education in the politics of the classroom. There was, for the first time, a hint of self-pity about the plotting, a sense that a grievance had been artfully constructed. What's been excellent about the series has been its capacity to wrongfoot your sympathies. So Drew's confrontation with Trevor, the cynical black teacher, has evolved from episode to episode and scene to scene, an encounter of crude idealism and pragmatic politics which eventually leaves you frustrated at Drew's obtuseness. At home, too, he isn't the simple hero. Last night, though, the combat seemed less real. Forced to take on the school play by the headmaster, Drew starts to pull off one of the little miracles of enthusiasm that make him so likeable, proposing a multicultural musical version of Julius Caesar. And then, just as it's working its magic on the surly and uncooperative, the headmaster steps in to insist on pure Shakespeare or nothing. This arbitrary villainy seems artificial somehow. Wouldn't an inner-city headmaster leap at the chance of Drew's project? But then, if he doesn't object, there are no grounds for the drama's final moment of triumph, a subversive chorale from the stage, in which teachers are upbraided and the headmaster hung in effigy. It was presented as Drew's last blow at the system that had pushed him out, but it felt more like a surrender.