Directed by Mark Pellington. USA. 2002.

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I have always been mildly critical of Richard Gere films. I am so on the grounds that he is incredibly annoying. I generally spend my time watching his movies either (a) making sarcastic comments to the amusement of my fellow trapped cinema goers, or (b) hoping for a meteor to crash into the theatre. The Mothman Prophecies is no change in that trend. 

The Mothman Prophecies is the story of John and Mary Klein (Richard Gere Primal Fear, Dr. T and the Women, and Debra Messing Will & Grace, A Walk in the Clouds). They are the perfect couple, and madly in love. Driving home after looking at a potential new abode, Mary is startled by a swooping black form encompassing their car. She swerves wildly to avoid it, knocking herself unconscious in the process. Only problem? John didnít see a thing.

Watching this film, Iím surprised by the feeling that Messing is the superior performer in this movie. Hers are the only genuine on screen moments, but the incredibly poor directing and the badly written script bring her down. She is the only charming character, but as she is never given enough to do in her short time on film the audience never gets a chance to become involved with her, making us disappointed, and making Gereís obsession with her seem forced.

Richard Gere looking for mothman. All Rights Reserved.Richard Gere, with all the natural acting prowess of a salad shooter, drags another promising idea down into the dust with him. As the bereaved husband there was a lot of potential in this role for sadness, anger, frustration. As the reporter trying to get to the bottom of a mystery there was a lot of potential for determination and stubbornness. As the man considering a new relationship there was a lot of potential for wariness, and acceptance. Since Gereís acting abilities are such that he couldnít convey the concept of falling if you pushed him off a cliff, his characterís left with nothing to do but mope and be rude. 

Mothman Poster.Laura Linney, (Primal Fear, Congo) whom I generally adore, does her best with the very little sheís been given here. Her small town sheriff shoved into incredible circumstances had the potential to be an amazing female character. Had the script been better, I imagine there would have been moments in the movie which could have explored the attitudes of men towards a woman in a position of power, or even what it might have taken for her to obtain her job. I was honestly hoping for some form of character development, but due to the script this terrific actress is never really given the chance to shine. 

The other aspects to this film that have to be mentioned are the cinematography and sound. Done properly these elements can only enhance the tapestry woven by an excellent story. In The Mothman Prophecies they donít serve to do anything but make you long for an Advil. The constant bright flashes, mixed with the fax machine like noises made by the Mothman itself, are at best irritating beyond words. 

Anyone who knows me will tell you that Iím a paranormal geek. (I believe I am at this moment one of the 4 people remaining who are still watching The X-Files). If itís got ghosts, aliens, or anything involving something a little out there, Iíll go, and Iíll generally have something nice to say. Not this time though. The Mothman Prophecies has nothing but a mish-mash of imageries, a story that never can quite decide where itís going, underused actresses, and the irritant Gere himself to itís credit. All you want after seeing this film, is to write to him to ask for the two hours of your time back.

Jen Johnston


The March 2002 edition of Fortean Times (no. 156) is a special Mothman edition that contains reviews of the film and the 'facts' behind the movie. The film is roughly based on John Keel's classic 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies. I must admit the writings of John Keel had a big impact on me in the 1970s and the dark menace of Mothman still lingers with me. 

Nigel Watson
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