Classic Intel: The Mothman Prophecies - DVD Review

'from a crop of minor early Noughties' Horror films that will hardly be remembered as high points of the decade or genre (I'm looking at you Jeepers Creepers, The Gift, The Grudge, The Watcher)'

Back during a time (2002) when Richard Gere did the occasional genre film he made The Mothman Prophecies, one of the dullest Horrors to emerge from a crop of minor early Noughties' films that will hardly be remembered as high points of the decade or genre (I'm looking at you Jeepers Creepers, The Gift, The Grudge, The Watcher), but nevertheless served as a way for teenage Horror fans (me) to fill their afternoons. With the benefit of cold, hard hindsight, heading out into the sunshine instead might have been more entertaining.

The outstanding problem with The Mothman Prophecies is one of context. This is a feature length episode of The Twilight Zone or The X-Files if ever there was one, but where we expect Mulder and Scully to encounter strange goings on, we want it and understand why it needs to happen, there is no reason for anything that happens to John Klein (Gere): it just does. Because of that the believability of the film plummets, the investment in the character, hardly there during the setup any way, disappears. There's a suggestion at a couple of points that maybe Klein is mad and imagining things after all. Frankly I couldn't have cared either way.

The style of director Mark Pellington's Horror is admittedly interesting, if not entirely successful. Instead of relying on jump scares or troubling imagery (not that he had a choice: the script has neither), he shows a predilection for making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, effectively evidenced in a scene where the supernatural presence tells Gere over the phone several things that are happening in his motel room. Coupled with an unsettling if dated edit and unexpected cuts and there's an argument that the style adds to the Horror more than the content. It's not entirely successful but it's a feather in Pellington's cap and perhaps a sign of what could have been. 1999's Arlington Road certainly says that there's talent there.

The rest of the film though is unbalanced. Gere never really shines and doesn't seem to connect with this sort of thing any way: see the recent Arbitrage for what happens when he clearly gets his teeth into something that's not a middling Romance. There's what looks like a lot of very good practical special effects during a bridge scene towards the end, but they're out of a different film entirely. The contemporary that most sprung to mind at several points was Nicholas Cage's Knowing which, and here's a real kick in The Mothman Prophecies' nuts, is probably the better film.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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