A pivotal character in The Mothman Prophecies makes a very interesting point about half way through the film. All around us are natural phenomenum that we can not see, but we accept their existence as "normal". Electricity. Microwaves. Soundwaves. Wind. These things are beyond the visual perception of human beings but are scientifically recognised elements of our world. Now, let's suppose that there are other forces in our world that are just as "normal" that have not yet been discovered and classified. What if there are entities (for want of a better word) that exist as naturally as you or I, but the average person can not perceive their existence. What if these entities can predict natural disasters and actually manipulate events? This is the premise of the trimuphant new video/DVD release The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere and directed by Mark Pellington. Hey kids, wanna see something really creepy...?
The Mothman Prophecies is about the most stylish movie I have seen in some time. It is filled with some of the most disturbing imagery ever committed to film. Presumably based on a true story, the film is almost directed and edited like a music video. Horrific images race across the screen with such velocity that the mind barely has time to register the stimuli before something else takes its place. This forces the viewer into a point of view no doubt as jarring as an actual encounter with the supernatural would be. The sound is also appropriately otherworldly, affecting the nervous system and adding to the sense of disorientation. The clever script offers suggestions as to the nature of the phenomena taking place but avoids spoonfeeding the audience, leaving us to draw our own conclusions. The film has an almost nightmarish quality that perfectly matches the subject matter. Most of the movie takes place at night or in dreary winter weather, emphasising the sense of melancholy throughout. This is not a feel good movie, and it is all the more effective for it.
Richard Gere once again proves that he is one of the best actors working in American cinema. Effortlessly combining Harrison Ford's stoicism with Mel Gibson's intensity, he is completely believable as a man who has dedicated his career to the pursuit of truth. As a star reporter for the Washington Post, his investigative nature will not allow him to turn away from the supernatural events that are destroying his life and twisting his soul. After the tragic death of his wife, Gere's character becomes sensitive to the presence of the entity due to his unfathomable grief. In turn, the entity becomes aware of him because of this sensitivity. Laura Linney is also good as a small town cop who is determined to overcome the assumption that she is just another bumpkin, as she refers to the locals. What I really liked about this movie was how it completely avoids the whole Mulder/Scully believer/skeptic angle. Both characters acknowledge that some very unusual things are happening, but they differ in the way they deal with the knowledge. Gere faces the horror head on, determined to make sense out of the unknowable, while Linney choses to deny the threat, determined to maintain the fragile control over her life. They are an effective couple, and the film wisely avoids a romantic subplot that would detract from the main story. Granted, the occurrences in the movie are far fetched, and the ending is pat and somewhat unsatisfying, failing to deliver the punch that the rest of the film promises. However, when the inevitable natural disaster occurs, it is every bit as harrowing as the plane crash in Fearless or the ship sinking in Titanic. The Mothman Prophecies is a film that overcomes the occasional weakness of its script.
Those of you who are hoping for some kind of creature feature type of film will be disappointed. No visual interpretation is ever made in the film of the Mothman, as the filmmakers know that the monster in your head is far scarier than anything that could be shown on the screen. This is a movie that elects to get under your skin instead of beating you over the head. The chills and thrills are subtle, more psychological than physical, and the result is truly spooky. The film is permeated with sadness, yet there is something oddly comforting about the thought of entities beyond our sphere of experience acting as guardian angels in our lives. This film will entertain you and force you to consider that there may very well be a whole different plane of existence beyond the physical one we inhabit. The Mothman Prophecies raises more questions than it answers, but it effectively demonstrates that not everything in our world can be logically explained.
The Mothman Prophecies is one of the more effective supernatural thrillers I have seen. Better than Stir Of Echoes, it ranks up there with The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense as a great example of this kind of storytelling. Watch this one late at night by yourself, with all the lights turned out. I guarantee you'll be checking under your bed before you try to go to sleep.