The Mothman Prophecies
Na na na na na na na na na Mothman!
I hope everyone had a good Halloween. Mine involved wearing a Luchadore mask, a suit, and getting cheap burritos. Sadly, the fun ended this morning when I saw that the entire side of my car had been keyed. Fucking assholes. If only I had some precognition or idea that it was going to happen, maybe I could have prevented it (with my fists of course). We've all had hunches or certain feelings that something bad is going to happen. Is it just a coincidence, a sixth sense, or something more supernatural? We've seen a few horror movies explore the ideas and repercussions of seeing the future, such as The Eye and Final Destination. Those movies tended to be a little abstract in the nature of their foresight, but today's movie goes in a different, more tangible direction.
The Mothman Prophecies is a 2001 psychological/supernatural horror movie, based on the book of the same name by John Keel. The movie stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, Primal Fear) as Washington Post reporter John Klein. One night, John and his wife Mary (Debra Messing, Will & Grace, Along Came Polly) get into a car accident after she apparently sees something with glowing red eyes in the road. The accident reveals that Mary actually has a brain tumor and dies shortly thereafter. John discovers pictures that Mary had drawn, showing a dark figure with glowing red eyes. Two years later, John is driving to Richmond, Virginia when he gets lost and ends up in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, near the Ohio border. His car breaks down and when he goes to a house to see if he can use their phone, the owner, Gordon Smallwood (Will Patton, The Punisher, Brooklyn's Finest) pulls a gun on him. Gordon claims that John has been appearing at his house for the past few days at the exact same time. Local police officer Connie Mills (Laura Linney, Mystic River, The Truman Show) diffuses the situation, and John stays in town to get his car fixed. Connie reveals that strange things have been happening in town and John begins to investigate. Gordon reveals that he is hearing voices, including one warning him about something involving “99” and “Denver”. Soon, a tragedy strikes when a plane crashes in Denver, killing all 99 passengers. The next night, Gordon explains that he met the person behind the voices, revealing his name is Indrid Cold, the fabled Mothman. Indrid Cold contacts John, revealing that he has both precognition and some sort of omnipotence. He warns John of a future tragedy involving the Ohio River and the number 37. Will John be able to prevent the tragedy and what exactly is this Indrid Cold?
Life inside the Kool-Aid Man
I had never heard of the Mothman urban legends prior to seeing the movie and was generally interested in learning about it. Apparently there were actual events in the 1960's involving some sort of Mothman, so it has some basis as an urban legend. Sadly, The Mothman Prophecies fails to even scratch the surface in regards to explaining just what the Mothman is or was. The first 45 minutes or so are genuinely interesting as events begin to unfold and we finally hear from Indrid Cold for the first time. The scene where he speaks to John Klein is quite creepy, almost like a supernatural “When A Stranger Calls”. From there, the movie begins a slow, agonizing death march for another hour. Just when things started to get interesting, the film puts on the brakes. The movie becomes meandering and unfocused, losing any and all potential for horror and excitement. Too much focus is given on the prophecies and not on the mothman itself. The prophecies weren't the fun part of the movie, the scary sounding monster that sees and knows everything is. That's like focusing on the nature of dreams instead of Freddy Krueger.
Another issue with the movie is the large amount of missed opportunities. We never actually see Indrid Cold, which was a huge disappointment. I wanted to know what this thing looked like and we barely get a hint. Why not have a showdown with the main character? And to make things even more confusing, it's not clear if Indrid Cold and the Mothman are the same thing or separate. The relationship between John and Connie feels completely forced and lacks any sense of genuine interest. The acting is fine, it's just their relationship that doesn't work. The movie does have some very good suspense in the beginning, but it loses steam about halfway through the almost two-hour long run time. There really isn't much in the way of action with no blood or gore. Much like the suspense, there is horror in the beginning, but it doesn't last long. The directing and camerawork is all over the place, quickly switching from scene to scene with all sorts of wacky angles and establishing shots.
That's his "Why am I in this movie?" look
The Mothman Prophecies had a lot of potential, but was bogged down by a confusing and muddled script that didn't know where it was going. The movie is way too long for it's own good and kills all interest. I would have really liked to know more about the Mothman and would have loved to see it. Other than a creepy voice and some poor CGI effects, we get nothing. The acting is fine, but the direction just doesn't work. Any potential interest I had in learning about the Mothman legend is now gone. The legend of Richard Gere and the gerbil still remains.