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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.41%
Worth A Look35.29%
Average: 16.81%
Pretty Bad: 5.88%
Total Crap: 12.61%

5 reviews, 89 user ratings

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Mothman Prophecies, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Dull, pretentious 'X-Files' retread."
1 stars

Going into 'The Mothman Prophecies,' I was in the mood for a solid, haunting, intelligent supernatural thriller. Coming out, I was still in the mood for one.

The movie is based on a supposedly true-life case -- a spectral creature dubbed the Mothman, who has bothered a lot of people, many in West Virginia, where this story unfolds. I'm reminded of Bill Hicks' observation that aliens and other uncanny events seem to visit only rural areas; Hicks concluded that aliens were probably intergalactic hillbillies, looking for a place to "kick back and whittle some."

Or, in the case of the Mothman, to spook people with predictions of impending disaster. For his other trick, he appears to people and messes with their perception of time. This explains why Richard Gere, as Washington Post reporter John Klein, makes a car trip from D.C. to West Virginia in just under two hours when it should take six, though it doesn't explain why the movie ends in just under two hours when it feels like six. Klein's wife (Debra Messing) fell prey to the Mothman in an apparent encounter with him/it two years prior; this is happy news for Gere, who gets to indulge the fantasy that he can express emotion onscreen. Klein's car breaks down, and he finds himself on the doorstep of a gun-toting Will Patton, who freaks out because he thinks Klein has visited his home on the previous two nights. Is it the Mothman, or just a case of an overworked West Virginian falling asleep in front of a Richard Gere marathon on Cinemax?

Sanity prevails in the person of Laura Linney, who plays a cop and gets to wear one of those Marge Gunderson winter hats with the badge on the front. Linney is sufficient reason to sit through anything, including this, and her concerned tenderness towards the rattled Klein reads as a superior actor's carrying Gere in their scenes together. Klein gets baffling late-night calls from the Mothman, who talks in one of those heavily sub-woofed spooky-guy voices (why don't supernatural forces ever sound like Fran Drescher?) and predicts things like plane crashes and earthquakes; he leaves it to the audience to predict everything else in the movie.

Which we do. I'm more than a little mystified by the "Directed by Mark Pellington" credit on The Mothman Prophecies, since he gave us perhaps 1999's most underrated thriller, Arlington Road. This director, it may so happen, is only as good as the script he's shooting; on his previous outing he had a twisty, shapely little number by Ehren Kruger, but here he's stuck with a staggeringly uneventful plot by Richard Hatem (adapting a book by John A. Keel). Eventually, the movie irreversibly becomes the default second X-Files feature film, with Gere as the fervent believer Mulder and Linney as the skeptical Scully. Klein slouches around, talking to various people who have seen the Mothman; he stops short of the next logical step, conducting an extensive and fruitless search for someone who hasn't seen the Mothman.

The last reel or so is an embarrassment -- or entertainment at long last, depending on how you look at it. Klein receives word that his dead wife will call him at noon the next day, so of course when he's waiting by the phone at 11:55, who should call but Laura Linney with an invitation to drop by for Christmas Eve. Klein gets all stressed out because he might miss his noon call -- hasn't the man heard of Call Waiting? There follows an elaborate destruction number on a bridge, staged by Pellington (like everything else herein) in skittish fragments. What should be a tragic event, slowed down so that we feel the full horror of it, is shot and edited to make the most of the fake-looking collapsing bridge parts.

'The Mothman Prophecies' is the most overdirected movie I've seen in a while; Pellington does everything stylish and clever -- which is to say, pretentious -- he never did in 'Arlington Road,' perhaps because there he had a story he trusted. Let's hope the next one doesn't require him to work so hard, and so unsuccessfully, to rescue it.

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originally posted: 01/11/07 10:15:15
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User Comments

1/09/17 Bents Good portrait of grief, just ok as a drama/thriller 3 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell eerie and entertaining 4 stars
4/20/11 The Big D Weird. Strange. Offbeat. Uncanny. Eerie. Bizarre. Unsettling. Unnerving. Perplexing. 5 stars
2/17/11 Wes Gates Agrees throughtly with Rob Gonsalves, good insights. 1 stars
9/18/10 Ritty Horton Terrible movie 1 stars
3/08/10 Steve Herrick Compelling every viewing.Real feel to this.Erie 5 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* Some very slow parts but for the most part keep you wanting more! Some intense moments!!! 4 stars
5/26/09 gail s. 2 hours wasted on a weak finish! 2 stars
5/15/09 Quigley One of the creepiest, most unsettling films ever made 4 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White suspense and lots of questions to be answered before the movie ends good ending 4 stars
2/02/08 David Cohen "Based on actual events" Bwa-hah-hah! 2 stars
5/09/07 William Goss Hokum that works better than it should, complete with a rather tense climax. 3 stars
1/21/07 David A. It hovers between intelligent horror and science fiction--outstanding picture 5 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
10/22/06 Dillon Directed with style. Eerie and intriguing. 5 stars
7/07/06 margarette GREAT..I LIKED IT... 5 stars
4/10/06 Dillon A creepy, visually stunning thrill ride 4 stars
9/17/05 R.W. Welch Agreeably spooky yarn with some factual basis. Has a few loose ends. 4 stars
8/18/05 ES I thought this would be the first movie with gere I'd like= I was wrong 2 stars
7/23/05 John Jones This movie was quite possibly the worst movie I have ever seen, really, it simply is crap! 1 stars
6/17/05 Bluto Kinda creepy, liked the concept 4 stars
4/01/05 failingloser waaay too long 3 stars
3/18/05 indrid cold A rare thing, a horror/thriller that actually gets under your skin. 4 stars
2/05/05 Jeff Anderson Everything spooky & scary that THE RING lacked. MARK PELLINGTON IS AN AMAZING DIRECTOR!!!!! 5 stars
2/01/05 Graves Meh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 stars
10/26/04 Steve Newman Excellent film, deep,dark and keeps you interested 4 stars
8/22/04 gcc confusing plot - but eerie atmosphere/sound effects very scary 4 stars
8/21/04 R.W. Welch Paranormal thriller is eerie enough but rambles around too much. 3 stars
2/01/04 john it has some creepy ideas in it but it just never makes any sense 3 stars
1/26/04 Eric Bruce Willis instead.Could have been better 3 stars
1/20/04 Jack Sommersby An original, cannily creepy masterpiece. Pellington's work is smashing! 5 stars
1/15/04 Samuel john, you can't call something pretty crappy because it was over your head 5 stars
12/11/03 john doesn't make much sense 2 stars
9/17/03 Obi Wan Loved it . . Gere's finest work since Primal Fear 5 stars
9/03/03 Charles Tatum Pellington finally finds a winning script 4 stars
8/11/03 Joesco Well done but confusing - Gere standard - Linney good 3 stars
8/04/03 Double G who made this crap 1 stars
7/21/03 dirtyharry i liked it i thought it was pretty good.. 4 stars
6/14/03 Alice Unique movie, very dark... 5 stars
6/05/03 Shadaan Felfeli I was quite engrossed through the film. Worth a watch 4 stars
5/07/03 Flounder Bone chilling. This is one of the most intriguing movies I have seen in a long time! 5 stars
4/11/03 RaboRon Beautyful fotographic movie with an 'X-file' like story 4 stars
3/21/03 Jack Sommersby A new American classic. Eerie, suspenseful, exciting, and emotionally affecting. A+ acting. 5 stars
3/12/03 Bill Gates Fucking shit. No ending...Signs was better. 1 stars
2/04/03 Pinkline Jones I thought Gere danced better in Saturday Night Fever 2 stars
1/31/03 The Talking Elbow This was a GOOD fucking movie. 5 stars
11/19/02 Massive Johnson I thought movies were supposed to have a point? sucked. 1 stars
9/23/02 y2mckay (who saw it TWICE) Actually, she saw the mothman in the car crash, died of tumor later. Dumbass. 4 stars
9/20/02 tigguhtoo worth the rental, I had to see what was "true" after watching. his wife did die of tumor. 4 stars
9/09/02 othree teaser...alot of hype, predictable ending 3 stars
8/30/02 Someone Who Saw The MOvie Hey y2mckay ... His wife died in a car crash not a brain tumor fool 5 stars
8/17/02 AJ One of the best horror/thriller movies 5 stars
8/05/02 Jim Fairly creepy monster movie leading up to a tragic denoument. "Wake up, #37!" 4 stars
7/29/02 Kyle Meh. I've seen better horror based on a true story. 3 stars
7/28/02 christina really liked the movie 5 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 One of Mark Pellington's best... Stylish and creepy 5 stars
7/19/02 Indrid Cold This movie is a thinking man's movie. Don't see it if you expect to be spoon-fed. 5 stars
7/16/02 JesseL Makes Blair Witch look like Citizen Kane. 1 stars
7/04/02 gary vidmar My wife couldn't sleep for weeks after seeing this 'true strory' thriller. 5 stars
6/24/02 Joe Very creepy movie!!! Worth owning on DVD 5 stars
6/23/02 David A. Intelligent, terrifying look into the unexplained. Richard Gere at his most mature. 5 stars
6/11/02 ^Elendil^ Fun. Geer is always terrible, and a bit too much fast-blurry-lights a la The Extraordinary. 3 stars
6/07/02 stud scary 5 stars
6/07/02 Joe Levy Vidmar you loser. This movie is based on a true story you moron! Go to hell! 5 stars
6/04/02 Chris This is a well made movie. It is not, however good because it has no tangiable villian. 3 stars
6/03/02 sd one of the best 4 stars
4/26/02 J Lyons Not bad, but reminded me of blair witch. 4 stars
4/10/02 Natalie Stonecipher If a true story, it's truth stranger than fiction; as fiction, just too strange 3 stars
3/30/02 DirtySocks A pure entertainment film. No artistic b**sh*t. Oh, it was creepy too! 5 stars
3/20/02 ^ZuLu^ The ending was much too Hollywood-like.But still very scary. 4 stars
3/17/02 Yono Oko A wild ride. A must see for x-files type people! 5 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm Happy while watching; won't need the DVD. 4 stars
3/10/02 indrid cold when all other possibilities are exhausted, what is left must be true 5 stars
2/24/02 Spanky Due to the lack of intelligent comments below, I will let my rating speak for itself 5 stars
2/24/02 Gadzooks! Hey PeteFountain, you asshole. 4 stars
2/22/02 Shish-Ka-BOB Maddeningly creepy. 5 stars
2/22/02 Dino If u don't think this story is true, look up the police reports from 1967. It happened. 5 stars
2/18/02 Reverend Krule They shoulda called it "The Sony Prophecies" 2 stars
2/17/02 Devil Boy B Best Scares I've Had Since Blair Witch Project 5 stars
2/15/02 GGG absolute garbage..Gere should retire 1 stars
2/15/02 Ziggy Stardust If this movie was any less scary i would have fallen asleep driving home 3 stars
2/14/02 Hotaine As if it wasn't a good enough movie on it's own, I also got to stare at Debra Messing. 5 stars
2/12/02 PeteFountain The entire audience gasped when he saw his dead wife in bed 5 stars
2/05/02 Jimmy James . 4 stars
1/29/02 rogue a bit bewildering 4 stars
1/28/02 Dick Many events make even less sense than no sense at all. 1 stars
1/26/02 John Rufi Freaky, Freaky, Freaky! Mothman has also been see before the chernobyl meltdown 5 stars
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  25-Jan-2002 (PG-13)



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