The Mothman Prophecies

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

“You know the buildup of energy before something happens?”

Today’s movie is one that has probably been on my List of Movies I’ve Been Beaning to See as long as anything. The Mothman Prophecies was released in 2002, at a time when I rarely, if ever, missed a movie I thought looked interesting during its initial theatrical run, and the trailers for the film looked fantastic. Of course, then it came out and word of mouth was pretty bad, and so I missed it. Now, a decade later, I return to see if I made a mistake all those years ago.

It turns out I didn’t, but for a while as I was watching it, I thought I had. The movie, allegedly based on real events, follows Richard Gere as New York Post reporter John Klein, who through a series of unusual events finds himself in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, enmeshed in an investigation of the strange happenings there. Director Mark Pellington really does a great job maintaining an air of tension and fear throughout the entire film. Unfortunately the screenplay does him few favors. While the first twenty minutes or so of the movie seem to be ramping up for a first-rate horror-thriller, the story never really seems to get going. Instead it bogs down in a far too pedestrian mystery-solving that never actually solves anything. Instead we are treated to expository road trips to meet the token disgraced-professor-who’s-an-expert-on-the-subject, and a half-developed relationship between Klein and local police Sergeant Connie Mills (Laura Linney).

I’ve got to imagine that this movie had a ton of material left on the cutting-room floor, yet it still feels like its thirty minutes too long. All the directorial tricks and cool camera work just can’t save the film from its own belabored and plodding structure. Even the climactic disaster at the end seems to drag out endlessly, This is probably because by that point I, as a viewer, just wanted the movie to be done with. The bottom line here is that the film gets point for atmosphere and visual style, but these points are only just enough to dodge my lowest rating, suffice to say The Mothman Prophecies is not worth seeing

[The Mothman Prophecies (2002) – Directed by Mark Pellington – Rated PG-13 for terror, some sexuality and language]

OM|ED Rating: Not Worth Seeing