Messing with Gere's Head
If I was to draw a line graph to highlight how effective "The Mothman Prophecies" was it would start off a bit wobbly around the middle, shoot up as we have the first moment of intrigue and drama but then slowly drop to the point that it had pretty much flat lined till spiking again at the end. It is unfortunate because as thrillers go "The Mothman Prophecies" probably could have been an exciting mystery from start to finish but it seems to get itself lost in trying to be too mysterious with curious characters, story tangents and a style which overwhelms the story. It is a case that less would have been more and would have allowed the main storyline to spin its magical intrigue to keep you interested.
Two years after a car accident left him a widow reporter John Klein (Richard Gere - Autumn in New York) mysteriously finds himself in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia not knowing how he got there. But he also finds himself in the centre of a mystery which connects back to the car crash as people are having strange experiences, seeing a "Mothman" figure the same one which his wife saw seconds before the crash. With the aid of police woman Connie Mills (Laura Linney - You Can Count on Me) he tries to get to the bottom of things especially as some of the strange experiences appear to be warnings of impending doom.
When "The Mothman Prophecies" starts it is very easy to groan with a scene which sees John and his wife Mary viewing a house with a realtor and getting frisky in a bedroom closet. It is a corny opening which is out of style with the rest of the movie which soon kicks in to being mysterious when we witness the crash and the split second vision of the "Mothman" which Mary sees. What follows on from there can simply be summed up by saying that 2 years later John finds himself in Point Pleasant, having no idea how he ended up there and dealing with lots of people who have encountered the "Mothman" with him trying to work out what it all means.
Now visually director Mark Pellington dazzles, various camera angles, pans, zooms and blurred focus create a clever look. Maybe it is a bit too much at times because the look ends up dominating some scenes to the point that you stop paying attention to what happens. It is not all the time and there are times when the style is a perfect balance with the story to make things very atmospheric and creepy and when it is right it is brilliant.
But the dominance of style is not the only issue because unfortunately the storyline loses its way and in trying to be mysterious and creepy gets lost. It means that after a good start which spikes your interest it slowly struggles to maintain it and seems to draw sub plots out which needn't have garnered so much attention. In fact whilst we get an ending which not only ties things together but also has a nice element of ambiguity it is a case that it suddenly wakes you up from the meandering story.
As for the performances well Richard Gere is solid through out as John Klein and does enough to convince us that the intrigue of the "Mothman" is pushing him towards the edge but it isn't a remarkable performance. And it is the same from the likes of Laura Linney, Will Patton and Debra Messing as they are all good in their roles but they are also forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Mothman Prophecies" is sadly one of those movies which starts well but the longer it goes on the more it struggles to keep your attention as it struggles to stay focussed on the story. It is solid but ultimately nothing special with little to make you want to watch it again.