The Mothman Prophecies (2002)


How have we not had a great movie about the Mothman yet? It’s one of the creepiest urban legends in American folklore and one of the spookiest series of events to unfold, and we still don’t have a compelling horror film about the phenomenon yet. Richard Gere stars as reporter Jeff Klein, a man who travels to West Virginia to potentially buy a new house with his wife Mary (Debra Messing). While driving home, Mary is frightened to her wits by a red winged demon that causes them to veer off the road and hit her head on the glass.

During her emergency check up, doctors discover a rare tumor in her brain. Failing to recover, Jeff is grief stricken by her death and mysteriously ends up in West Virginia on the way to a meeting. When he arrives, he’s greeted by an aggressive local (Will Patton) who swears he’s been there two nights before. After being escorted by the local sheriff, Jeff begins to investigate more series of unusual events occurring in West Virginia, including weird dreams, odd sightings, victims with bloody eyes, and an enigmatic being named Indrid Cold who could hold the key to the mystery and Jeff’s newfound obsession. I really wanted to like “The Mothman Prophecies,” but its contemporary take on the incidents in the sixties that mixes every account in to a confusing mystery really doesn’t add up to much of a horror movie.

In the end, it’s really just an unsatisfying mystery with a great concept. Was the mothman an angel? Was he a super powered being cursed with visions of horrific events? Was it a mutant from a chemical plant? Was it a demon? Was it even any kind of monster and was just a large owl seen at locals’ windows? You won’t really care by the end of the movie. All you’ll wonder is why Mothman likes to piss people off with prank phone calls, masquerade as other people, and tinker with faulty bridges. Man, why are the cryptids always such pricks? The Mothman can allegedly transfer people through time, transcend time and space, and appear literally anywhere, but it can’t help people that are about to die in a bridge collapsing?

And how did it sense character Klein’s wife had a brain tumor? Did he minor in neurology? Is the mothman really just a monstrous manifestation of future John Klein setting his fate to help people escape death from the Bridge in West Virginia? It’s an interesting theory I composed while attempting to keep from losing consciousness in the second half. The only saving graces for the film itself is the presence of the always gorgeous Laura Linney as a local sheriff investigating the weird occurrences, and the competently creepy atmosphere set by director Mark Pellington. I love how he creates an ominous sentience to the villain, setting every scene amidst beaming red lights, almost as if the Mothman is omnipresent and watching Jeff’s plight unfold. “The Mothman Prophecies” has all the ingredients for a terrifying and dread soaked mystery, but when all is said and done, it’s merely a sub-par, often lethargic take on a a creepy urban legend with absolutely nothing to offer its audience.