The Mothman Prophecies

What The Mothman Prophecies lacks in story, it makes up partway in mood. This looks like it could be an episode of The X-Files, with Richard Gere as Fox Mulder and Laura Linney as Dana Scully. Everything is there including moody music, dark sets, and an overbearing sense of purposeful ambiguity. The events depicted in the movie are based on actual events. Actually, based on the book by John A. Keel, which is based on actual events in 1964 Pleasanton, Virgina. Dozen of people claimed they saw a large creature with red eyes. The creature supposedly foretold a disaster that led to the deaths of many citizens. The adaptation takes place in the present day and revolves around Washington Post reporter John Klein (Gere, Dr. T & the Women, Autumn in New York). Klein and his wife Mary (Debra Messing, Celebrity, Prey) just bought a house when they are in a horrible car accident. Mary dies, but not before she reveals to John that she saw something very strange.

Two years later, John is still despondent over Mary's death. He is driving to Virginia to interview the governor, but finds himself somehow in Pleasanton, on the Ohio River. Strange things begin happening in earnest. His car dies, and his cell phone does not work, so he goes to the house of Gordon (Will Patton, Remember the Titans, Trixie). Gordon claims that Klein was there the two prior nights. Gordon claims he is sane, but as Klein knows him better, things become eerier. Gordon claims to speak with the Mothman, who foretells tragic events around the world. Klein decides to stay for a while and begins investigating the phenomena with local officer Connie Parker (Laura Linney, The House of Mirth, You Can Count on Me). Parker is also suspicious of the events occurring, mainly because respectable people are experiencing strange things.

This is just about as far as The Mothman Prophecies movie goes. Strange things keep happening to Klein, and he is powerless to do anything. He talks to people on the phone who claim they never called him. He goes to Chicago to meet with Alexander Leek (Alan Bates, Gosford Park, Love in a Cold Climate), an author of a book on unexplained phenomena (get it, Leek is Keel spelled backwards). It seems that director Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, Single Video Theory) is so concerned with establishing the look and feel of the movie that he and adapter Richard Hatem (Under Siege 2) forgot to complete the adaptation. In terms of the look, the movie looks great. Different people view the Mothman different ways, and Pellington's approach to showing him is creepy and indistinct.

Gere and Linney do little except react to the events happening around them. As the movie progresses, Pellington's intent is to go for the psychological struggle happening within Klein. Is he imagining things, or are they real? Clearly, Parker is much more skeptical when Klein claims she met Mary. Klein and Parker spend too much time chasing too many leads. Nothing coherent emerges, including full personalities for the two leads. It becomes frustrating after a while watching the movie go nowhere. The goal is to present the story and let the viewer decide what is real or not. The problem is that they cloud things too much and refuse to reveal much of anything. Essentially, one can conclude pretty much everything from watching the film.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated PG-13 for terror, some sexuality and language.

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