Monday, March 5, 2012

Back in Time Review: The Mothman Prophesies (2002)

We all have "those" movies. The ones that we return to again and again even though we can't always explain why. The Mothman Prophesies isn't a great movie. It's good, but not great. And the actors don't exactly put it over the top. I'm not much of a fan of Richard Gere, I like Debra Messing but she isn't in it much. It is the first film where I noticed Laura Linney, who I adore, but she isn't in it a ton either.  The really standout performance is the crazy guy played by Will Patton (won't ruin it for you, but you'll know who I mean) and he isn't in it the whole time either. If you read the real accounts it isn't really "true" to those stories, so it's not the crypto-nerd points. It's just... everything. It's a quiet, subtle movie that slowly reaches up and takes hold of you the way that all classic horror stories do. It gives you more questions than answers, more chills than thrills. But it all adds up in a way that will probably make leave all the lights on when going to bed.

The Mothman Prophesies is loosely based on some mysterious reports in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia back in the 1960s. Residents reported having seen a large (often seven feet tall) man-shaped being with wings and glowing red eyes. All of those reports seemed to come in advance of a catastrophe in the town.

From a plot perspective they make a good choice with having the main character be a high-power investigative journalist -- John Klein played by Richard Gere. That career (and some other personal things) make his drive to figure out what's going on very believable and create a thread that the real accounts don't have. John Klein arrives at Point Pleasant under somewhat mysterious circumstances and that also makes his quest for the truth have some weight.

What's particularly enjoyable to those of us who watch so many things like this is that the Mothman is just downright different. You get to a point where you're tired of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. Mothman is something else. I could write a whole post about what the Mothman might be, but don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't seen it yet. So watch it now and we can discuss it on Twitter!

The Commander's Rating: Four out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: A creepy, thinking-person's horror movie with an unusual supernatural phenomenon based on real accounts from the 1960s. If you're a Gere fan I think this is one of his most engaging performances. Laura Linney (Connie Mills), Alan Bates (Alexander Leek), and Will Patton (Gordon Smallwood) all turn in highly engaging performances.
Cons: Not the right film if you are looking for a scream a minute. Also, maybe you don't want to get the Mothman's attention.
Recommendation: Late night fare so that the quiet creepiness can really get to you. Be prepared to be intrigued. For your convenience here's the link to the Mothman wikipedia entry but I suggest you watch the movie first since they didn't follow the accounts very closely and I think foreknowledge would just be distracting. And as a caution here's a link to our own Mothman experience.

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