THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES
The Mothman Prophecies is best appreciated wholly as a work of fiction rather than as a true story. In such light, it eventually proves rather absorbing. Director Mark Pellington employs the dark subterranean visual look of films like Se7en (1995) and tv series such as The X Files (1993-2002) and Millennium (1996-9). Aided by tomandandys dense, constrictive soundscape, the film broods with looming ominousness where everything from glances into the mirror to aerial shots cruising across the town becomes imbued with sinister, otherworldly menace. The film is akin to Nicolas Roegs Dont Look Now (1973), another intriguing film about precognition, where, like Roeg, Mark Pellington almost makes the film a puzzle of teasing visual clues, creating editing cuts between blurred red and black light sources, fractured reflections and juxtaposed images, where shadows and random images of x-rays, doorway arches and the like seem to be unconsciously forming into moth figures.
Eventually the film develops a genuinely creepy atmosphere with its reality disjunctions and some disconcertingly spooky scenes where Richard Gere starts receiving phone calls from The Mothman telling him everything he is doing and even before he does it, and the eerie reappearances of his dead wife. An unrecognisable Alan Bates is on hand to offer some disturbing and interesting explanations for what is happening.
The Mothman Prophecies leaves one with a sense of something genuinely unearthly and inexplicable occurring, the explanation of which lies clearly beyond the veil of normalcy. Most welcomely, this is well above the usual run of dreary pop-up effects and fake dream sequence jumps that turn up in horror films this is a film that attains an uncanny and unsettling grip. The only part that does not work was the casting of Richard Gere who is far too much of a handsome romantic lead to ever seem particularly troubled by what is happening, let alone someone who has let his obsessions take over his life.
Mark Pellington is a former music video director who had previously made the thriller Arlington Road (1999). He has made several other films, the most high-profile being the music documentary U2 3D (2007). The nearest to any other genre work Pellington has made was Henry Poole is Here (2008) about a man whose neighbours think the face of Jesus has appeared on the wall of his home. Pellington has also executive produced The Man from Earth (2007) about the life of an immortal man.
(Winner in this sites Top 10 Films of 2002 list. Winner for Most Underrated Film, Nominee for Best Director (Mark Pellington), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography at this sites Best of 2002 Awards).