Source: The Scarborough Mirror – Toronto
Sunday, January 27, 2002
Film Review by Stuart Green

Mothman Prophecies Heavy On Horror, Chills

Its not easy to make a monster movie that never shows the
monster. It takes a certain skill on the director’s part to make
us believe there is this menacing being or beast or entity
that’s threatening and tormenting our protagonists without
relying on special effects and pup pets to give the monster
form.

But director Mark Pellington has done just that with the
effective and chilling supernatural thriller ‘The Mothman
Prophecies’.

Based on actual events in West Virginia more than 30 years ago,
the film is the eeriest, smartest and most unpredictable tale
of other-worldly happenings since ‘The Sixth Sense’, with the
added impact of having its roots in real life happenings.

‘The Mothman Prophecies’ crosses ‘X-Files’-like paranormal
investigation and the compelling story of a man trying to get
over the death of his wife some two years earlier.

Richard Gere stars as the grieving widower, a journalist named
John Klein, who gets lost on his way to an interview and ends up
in Point Pleasant, W.Va., some 600 miles from his intended
destination with no recollection of how he got there.

But he, quickly discovers that being lost and without a
functioning automobile is the least of his troubles. It seems
there have been all sorts of strange goings on in the town
that local police are at a loss to explain.

And the more he hears about those goings on, the closer to home
they hit. Apparently dozens of townsfolk have been reporting
seeing a strange moth or bird-like creature and hearing odd
squeals emanating from their telephone receivers.

Klein is particularly struck by the Mothman sightings as his
wife claimed to have had the same vision shortly before she
died.

He quickly teams up with a local cop (Laura Linney) and puts his
investigative journalism skills to use as he attempts to
discover the reality behind the fantastic stories.

The investigation leads him to a local mystery man and a Chicago
author who reveal the sightings are premonitions of a tragic
event that Klein is determined to prevent.

Based on John A. Keel’s 1975 book of the same name, ‘The Mothman
Prophecies’ is part thriller, part love story and part urban
legend.

But as realized by Pellington (director of the equally powerful
crime thriller ‘Arlington Road’), it’s almost all horror. The
former music video maverick turned feature film director has
obviously spent a great deal of time watching movies like ‘The
Exorcist’ and ‘Carrie’ or anything by Alfred Hitchcock that
effectively use lighting, sets and music to evoke terror. We
only ever catch brief glimpses of the Mothman and even those
glimpses are not definitive in portraying the creature.

Gore and Linney as the hapless duo trying to get to the bottom
of the mystery are great as a Mulder and Scully team; he a
believer, she a skeptic. But it’s Will Patton as a local who is
the conduit between the real and supernatural worlds who gives
the film’s most dynamic performance. He’s angry, confused and
scared to death of what’s going on around him and it shows.

Pellington uses him wisely to punctuate an already well-crafted
movie.

‘The Mothman Prophecies’ is both creepy and captivating… and
jump-out-of-your seat scary as hell too.

<!– –>