Movie Reviews 235 – The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

The Mothman PropheciesI can’t believe I didn’t write a movie review the first time I watched this movie a few years ago. Forget the fact that this is billed as one of those ‘based on real facts’ movies and that mainstream hunk Richard Gere is the star. The Mothman Prophecies is deceptively creepy and falls squarely in the horror movie genre category. Not relying on gratuitous gore or jump scares, it is a straight up spooky tale that delivers genuine shivers derived from one’s innermost fears.

Two years after a horrific accident in which his wife exclaimed that she saw a caped or winged creature moments before impact, newspaper columnist John (Gere) Klein’s wife dies from an unrelated tumour. Still grieving the loss, he goes for an overnight drive seeking a moment of solitude when John finds that he has inexplicably covered hundred of miles in a short time landing  himself in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. But when his car suddenly sputters out and he goes to the nearest house for help, the homeowner is already waiting for him, shotgun in hand, claiming it was the third time in as many nights that John has come ringing the house in the middle of the night. The surreal situation is calmed when officer Connie Wills (Laura Linney) answers the call. But Connie also remarks to John that his unexplained encounter is just one of many that have afflicted the small town in the recent past. Something is brewing in Point Pleasant.

Before long John is investigating strange ‘messages’ being heard by some townsfolk, including a dream by Connie herself. The messages are innocuous taken by themselves, but later become relevant when tragedies and disasters follow. Those who are haunted have also seen images of the Mothman creature that John’s wife claims to have seen. John knows he was brought to Point Pleasant for some reason and believes that he can prevent a pending disaster but in order to do so he has to make sense of the messages and dreams which have led him to incorrect conclusions. He and the few others siding his crusade are taunted by The Mothman, even to the point of getting phone calls. But what is the end game? What does it all mean? And what disaster awaits them?

Based on paranormal researcher John Keel’s 1975 book with the same title, the events reputedly took place in 1966-67, with over one hundred claimed apparitions of The Mothman in Point Pleasant, These supposedly all ended after the town disaster – which is the finale of the movie – claimed 46 lives.

The visions and messages all make sense with that last event which presents a neat closure for the film, but at the same time leaves us lingering about the mythological Mothman. Was it just some bloated cryptozoology hoax perpetrated by the town so that they could have their local monster? If you visit Mount Pleasant today you’ll find that they’ve certainly embraced their legend and even erected a statue next to the Mothman Museum and Research Center. If nothing else we got a decent film out of the deal although making genre movie out of a real life tragedy does seem kind of cold.

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