That title needs to go for a start; I guess we like stories about spidermen, and batmen, but mothmen, maybe not so much. So Mark Pellington’s 2002 supernatural thriller is up against it straight out of the gate; it needs to be good to compensate for that title, and remarkably, it’s far better than might be expected. Richard Gere plays a reporter looking into the legend of the mothman, who appears like an angel of death before tragedy strikes, and the whole film plays like an X Files episode, with Gere and Laura Linney daring to believe in forces outwith their understanding.
Gere brings commendable gravity to the role of Washington Post columnist John Klein, whose wife (Debra Messing) dies in a car crash, claiming to have seen a moth-like figure before her death. Years later, Klein goes to West Virginia’s Point Pleasant, where a number of locals have had similar hallucinations. Is there a rational explanation, or is something very bad about to afflict a number of innocent people? With local cop Connie Mills (Linney) in tow, Klein uncovers Alexander Leek (Alan Bates) an expert in the paranormal who warns him to stay away from the area, but Klein is drawn to the impending tragedy like an, erm, moth to a flame.
Pellington’s film claims to be based on true events, but ones that are easily discredited; that said, The Mothman Prophecies builds up a decent head of steam before a nightmarish finale, largely due to good acting from Gere, Linney, Bates and Will Patton. Credibility may be in short supply, but that’s not a problem while the drama plays out, with Klein helpless to prevent a Final Destination-style carnage. And Gere in particular excels; here’s been a great and enduring star, from musicals (Chicago) to indie drama (Time Out of Mind) to rom-coms (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride), he’s kept working and does well with some tense scenes here.
Horror films don’t usually have this kind of slick production, but it’s good production values that keep this film afloat; while the story sounds silly in retrospect, The Mothman Prophecies is a more than decent genre time-passer that just about escapes from the shadow of a goofy title. Link below.