The Mothman Prophecies (2002)


Tell John I’m Sorry For Ruining Everything

At one point in my life, I did a podcast with a friend of mine.  And during one of our many conversations, today’s movie came up.  It’s a movie that I had heard about, but was never interested in seeing.  Later, I began to read about the mythology that this movie was based on and slowly started developing interest in seeing it.  When I found the movie on Netflix streaming, I decided this was the time to watch it.  Let’s hear about it in today’s review of The Mothman Prophecies, written by Richard Hatem and directed by Mark Pellington, and starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, David Eigenberg, and Debra Messing.

John Klein (Richard Gere) is a reporter who is looking for a house with his wife Mary (Debra Messing).  They find the house that they want and, on the trip back, Mary swerves their car off the road to avoid a dark figure that only she saw.  The head wound she suffers is not fatal, but the CAT scan she has reveals a brain tumor that is.  So she dead now.  When packing up her stuff in the hospital, John finds that she’s been drawing a lot of pictures of dark figures with wings and red eyes.  Two years later, John spaces out while driving and realize that he’s five hours off-course and is in a small town called Point Pleasant.  He shows up at the house of Gordon Smallwood (Will Patton) to use his phone, and promptly gets a shotgun pulled on him.  A little later, local police officer Connie Mills (Laura Linney) responds to the Smalldick’s call.  Smalldong tells Connie that John has shown up at his house for the past few nights, and he decided to catch him in the act.  John decides to stay in the town for a while to investigate a series of strange happenings involving something named Indrid Cold that calls people with riddles that seem to predict disasters, leading up to a real life disaster that inspired the myth that in turn inspired this movie.

Damn my interest in the paranormal!  The fact that this movie is based on a “real life” myth drew me to watch a movie that I found more off-putting and irritating than anything else.  I had read about this movie when it came up reading about the real-life events of Point Pleasant, when reported sightings of a mothman creature in 1967  preceded the collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people.  It was also said to be seen in pictures right before a disaster happened.  So I came in thinking I’d see a cool paranormal movie.  This movie has paranormal stuff, but it’s also heavily just a pretty boring drama about Richard Gere getting over his wife.  But still, the story is fine.  What was not fine was everything that put the story on screen.  This movie got on my nerves with strange camera angles, peculiar editing, odd music, and weird transitions.  (Somebody bought a thesaurus)  There were times in this movie when Richard Gere was on the phone with somebody (or something) and the director kept focusing the camera on his mouth for some reason.  I assume they wanted to make it seem more tense or something, but I just found it annoying.  Tension was also probably intended in the quick cuts the editor made during “tense” scenes, but I again just found it irritating.  The music was odd but also in odd places.  There was one scene that was a pretty calm scene of him looking through files that had a lot of quick cuts and pounding music that didn’t fit the scene at all.  Near the end of the movie, the director also became interested in making strange transitions hinting at the mothman’s involvement in something, like a scene where it zoomed out and looked at the scene from above and the cars on the road made a Y shape that mimicked a drawing of the mothman Mary had drawn.  We get it, the mothman is supposed to be involved.  Knock it off with the stupid transitions.  They use red in a similar way as it was used in the Sixth Sense, showing up in scenes of heightened “tension”, but again, we get it.  This movie is called The Mothman Prophecies, we know the mothman is involved.

Richard Gere’s mouth showed up more in this movie than the rest of him, so I’ll just talk about the performance of the close up of his mouth.  Okay, that’s not true, but his performance really made no impact on me, so I don’t really have anything to say about it.  Not that many performances in this movie actually stood out for me.  The first one that did was Deborah Messing, but mainly just because she barely in it, but she was still a driving force throughout.  The main performance that stood out for me was Will Patton as Gordon Smallwood, but only because it was the most off-putting performance.

So, in case you need a summation, I thoroughly believe there is no reason for you to watch this movie.  It’s not so much a bad film as it is a display of a bad director, editor, or director of photography.  The story is fine enough, but I did wish it focused more on the myth of the mothman.  There is probably a good movie in that stuff.  Add in some mediocre or unappealing performances, and you have a movie that is neither good nor bad, but certainly not something you need to watch.  And so The Mothman Prophecies gets “Something terrible is going to happen in Point Pleasant” out of “I didn’t like the way he sounded.”

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