Director – Mark Pellington
Cast – Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, David Eigenberg, Lucinda Jenney, Debra Messing, Tom Stoviak
Release Year – 2002
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have heard much hype over this film since its 2002 debut, and despite all of that hype it took me 8 years to finally view this film in its entirety. Based on the novel by John A. Keel on the legendary Mothman sightings in West Virginia, this film provides some great creepy elements that come as a result of great direction and a chilling story. For a somewhat slow moving horror/drama, this film did its job in what it aimed to do.
The Mothman Prophecies stars Richard Gere as John Klein, a DC reporter who is drawn to a small West Virginian town experiencing a strange phenomenon involving a strange creature, a creature his wife saw before her untimely death two years prior. The phenomenon in the town worsens as certain townsfolk begin to have horrifying visions, visions that prove true. As john investigates the phenomenon with the town’s officer, Connie Mills(Laura Linney), he comes across a phenomena of his own…one that leaves him in direct contact with the Mothman.
Well, I did not find this as scary as I wanted it to be, but it sure did creep me out when need be. The dark and moody atmosphere was perfect for this film, and came as a result of Mark Pellington’s positive direction. Right from the beginning this film had my attention thanks to the atmosphere and cinematography, and it kept my interest for about 90 percent of the runtime. His pacing is well done, and he provides just the right amount of chills and creepy scenes to keep the viewer engaged and possibly goosebump-riddled as well.
The storyline is what really sells this film, and helps set up the creepiness we get on-screen. John Klein suffering through the “grieving spouse” syndrome is no new element to these types of films, but Richard Gere excels in this role and does his part in selling the story. To me Laura Linney’s Connie Mills was neither here nor there, but Will Patton’s character Gordon Smallwood provided some great conflict and story development. This being a horror/drama means there is a fair amount of character conflict and study, so be prepared to sacrifice a bit of Mothman action for that. Thankfully, the fair amount of Mothman action that we did get was sufficient and came with some very interesting elements that kept me engaged and very interested in what was going on.
While I did enjoy this film enough to give it a positive(in my book) rating, it did come with some flaws. I disliked the look of the Mothman during the little scenes which we were shown his appearance. It may not have been director Mark Pellington’s wish to turn this film into an overly “horror” film, but whether the guy likes it or not if you make a film about the Mothman then you are pretty much making a horror film, and we got no horror when it came to the Mothman’s appearances. In all honesty, I found the sketched drawings of the Mothman his victims would draw much scarier than the Mothman himself. When I mentioned earlier that this film had my attention for 90 percent of its runtime, I meant it. I felt this film lost “it” during the third act, and I found the last sequence involving the “bridge” to be useless and overly cliché. With such a well-done story and positive direction I was expecting much more than the silly climax we were given.
Overall, this is a well-done film that I recommend to those who are seeing a slow-moving, atmospheric film sure to bring on a few good chills.