The Mothman Prophecies
The mothman cometh. John (Gere) is afraid to go to sleep...
dir Mark Pellington
scr Richard Hatem
with Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Lucinda Jenney, Debra Messing, Alan Bates, David Eigenberg, Billy Mott, Ann McDonough, Dan Callahan, Christin Frame, Murphy Dunne
release US 25.Jan.02; UK 1.Mar.02
Screen Gems
02/US 1h58

4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
what do you see? Based on a true story, this creepy drama effectively gets under our skin ... and most importantly never makes the typical mistakes of a Hollywood thriller. It leaves most of the horror in our minds, and is all the more effective for it, even though some audiences may demand more information! Anyway, after a personal trauma, journalist John Klein (Gere) starts to notice strange things happening around him--sights and sounds of a wispy moth-man are bad enough, then he mysteriously ends up in a small West Virginia town 400 miles from where he thought he was. The townfolk share his experiences, and he links up with the local cop (Linney) to figure out what's going on. Soon it becomes clear that the apparitions and voices are all harbingers of some impending tragedy.

Director Pellington cleverly creates the film's tone without ever resorting to obvious movie trickery. He uses clever editing, subtle visual hints and a solid cast to tell the story of normal people caught up in something they can't understand. It's a similar approach to his eerily effective Arlington Road, but without that film's cliched finale. Nothing quite prepares us for the conclusion to this story--we are as shocked as the characters themselves. This is one of Gere's most intriguing roles in years, and Linney shines as usual in another strong, understated performance. While the film's design and effects combine to draw us into this modern legend and send chills up our spines. On the other hand, the screenplay is a bit academic and odd, making us wonder what really happened and demanding research to sort out the facts from the quite obvious movie fiction.
themes, suspense cert 12 12.Feb.02

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall