Today’s movie is a disappointment. I’m so sorry and I understand if you want to go and watch Maru videos. I’d do that too, if I didn’t have to write about this movie, The Mothman Prophecies. I’ve been calling it “The Little Movie That Could” because it could have been so much more than it was. It’s a meandering, not terribly scary, supernatural thriller that follows a man’s encounter with the Mothman and his attempts to figure out what the Mothman is and what he wants.
For the uninitiated, the Mothman is a cryptid from West Virginia that was first spotted in 1966. People reported a flying man with giant moth wings. The sightings predated the collapse of the Silver Bridge, and there were no sightings afterwards, so some people think the Mothman was trying to warn people. Skeptics argue that the Mothman was probably a sandhill crane or barred owl. As far as cryptids go, this just seems kind of lame. Although, I’m spoiled since my state has its own devil.
Richard Gere stars as John Klein, a reporter for The Washington Post.
Watching this movie made me realize two things. One, why is that Muppet made of leather?
Two, is Richard Gere related to David Duchovny? Because there is definitely something Duchovney-esque about his face.
He’s driving home with his wife, Mary (Debra Messing), when they get into a car accident. She says she saw something. In fact, we see it too, and it looks like terrible CGI.
Mary gets an MRI because of the accident–well, we see her head going into the MRI coils but the machine they put her in is a CT scanner–and it turns out she has a glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. That’s shaped like a moth!
Mary dies and, while going through her things, John finds creepy pictures that she drew of the thing she saw.
Two years later, John is driving to an interview when he arrives six hours away from where he was going, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, with no memory of how he got there. His car breaks down so he walks to the first house he sees. The owner pulls a gun on him and claims that John has been knocking on his door for the past two days. Police officer Connie Mills (Laura Linney) shows up and defuses the situation. She later confesses that odd things have been happening around town.
John is intrigued and stays in town. People have reported seeing something similar to what his wife saw and there are pictures that are close to his wife’s drawing. Gordon (Will Patton) tells John that he heard a voice from the drain and wrote down what it told him. As a rule, I ignore all voices that come from drains.
I think that Gordon teaches a class at The Learning Annex about how to write creepy serial killer notes.
They later see that a flight crashed in Denver, killing 99 people. Is the Mothman warning people of these tragedies or is he causing them? John’s work life starts to unravel as he seeks these answers. He finally contacts a professor, Alexander Leek (Alan Bates) who warns him that pursuing the matter could ruin his life.
Here’s a random fact; the man who wrote the book that this movie is very loosely based on is named John Keel. They used an anagram of his name for Alexander’s character. In one of the few really creepy moments in the movie, Alexander tells John, “You noticed them and they noticed that you noticed them.” Ok, that’s clumsily worded but it’s a creepy concept that there may be entities observing us, who may be as advanced as we are in comparison to ants, and they may intervene in our world. So what does the movie do with this creepy potential? It uses it for a maudlin, ham-handed happy ending.
This movie feels like it’s composed entirely of missed potential. It’s never really scary or tense. It meanders from plot point to plot point. At first it seems like it’s going to be an eco-horror and a critique of pollution but then it becomes spiritual. It’s too long at two hours. It’s a shame that a good cast was wasted on such a clichéd script. I especially liked Will Patton and Alan Bates’ performances. I was hoping that Alexander Leeks would become a guiding, Donald Pleasance-like professor but his screen time was way too limited.
That being said, I enjoyed the soundtrack. It was mostly creepy, ambient music. There are some cool shots. The director seemed to like shots that mimicked the symmetry of moth wings and glowing insect eyes.
I also liked how the director played with perspective, especially with the use of mirrors.
Unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good and this movie ended up being a chore to watch.