The Mothman Prophecies
Eric Renderking Fisk | Autumn 2002
Originally Published via The Indy Experience.
Very little out of Hollywood scares me anymore. Watching this movie on a windy rainy night... this frightened the heck out of me. The Mothman Prophesies is a movie that is more suspenseful than horror. Not once is there an ax swinging manic or knife wielding psycho, but the antagonist and the title character is far more terrorizing. And like every good scary movie, the monster doesn’t give up its secrets easily… if ever. That’s frightening enough, but as the movie opens with the text: “Based on Actual Events”, hairs are bound to stand up on the back of your neck.
The set up for this paranormal thriller is classic yet original. Richard Gere, surpassing all of his earlier performances as John Kline, a political analyst for the Washington Post, and the skeptic at large. He and his wife, Mary (played by “Will and Grace’s” Deborah Messing,) have the perfect marriage and lives we all dream about having. That dream is cut short by a small car accident, which leads to a routine exam, which uncovers a not-so-routine brain tumor. Mary Kline remembers seeing a horrific beast before the accident, which becomes her deathbed obsession. The visions, it seems, were just a symptom of the tumor. Before her death, Mrs. Kline leaves behind sketches of the visions, a horrific beast with sweeping wings that seem to be crafted from the black smoke billowing from hell, bright red piercing eyes that could cut through to your soul...
After her death, Kline tries to move on, and one night two years later he sets out to take a two-hour trip to interview a state politician for his new paper. His car breaks down if that’s not hard enough to deal with, he then finds out how much more time has passed then thought, and he’s 6 hours away from his intended destination. Quickly, over the course of the next few days, he finds that those in the town of Point Pleasant, W.V. have had their own encounters with the same phantom his wife had seen before her death. To help keep Kline centered, he’s aided my one of the town’s police officers, Sgt. Connie Parker (Laura Linney). Parker adds weight and validity to the claims of the townspeople by showing Kline the drawer filled with Mothman sightings that have been filed recently. Laura Linney’s performance is pretty terrific, “I’m scared as heck but I’ve got a job to do” is a gentle balance I don’t think too many actresses could pull off.
The movie takes twists and turns while Klein pieces together past events while those around him continue to have eerie encounters. These eerie encounters cover the gambit of your typical scary/suspense cliché’s in fresh and terrifying ways through camera work, sound and visual effects and editing. As a movie that’s perfect for the Halloween season, the spirit is kept alive by not revealing or explaining too much what the creature is. In fact, as Kline seeks out Alexander Leek (Alan Bates), author of many books on similar sightings, we learn this horror has a long history dating back to cave paintings thousands of years ago. The movie ends in a catastrophic event, one of the many eerie events foretold by the Mothman. The movie ends in a cloud of mystery while leaving the door open for much more encounters with this phantom.
Lots of you reading this review would be scratching your head wonder why I would recommend this movie as a “Flick that will hold you over till ‘Indiana Jones and The Fourth Movie’”. For a movie to be considered as a recommendation, it must meet particular criteria. Such criteria include the occult and biblical events. There are a few things that peaked my interest in this movie and thought this would be a perfect fit for Halloween for Indy fans. Not a huge fan of Richard Gere, but throughout this movie I was reminded of the many times Jones would piece together ancient lore and current events to uncover the truth or a lost artifact. And as Raiders and The Last Crusade deal in biblical artifacts and events, The Mothman Prophesies dwells in that nether region of biblical verses that foreshadow events that had yet to unfold.
To boil down the prophetic verse- In the End Times, the Devil and his underlings will have the power to deceive many. For those who are not familiar with those verses…
Matt. 24:11 - And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
Matt. 24:24 For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Rev. 12:9 -And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
To be honest, this is my speculation, but there are many times through this motion picture we are given clues that this is what the filmmakers would like to believe. Again, as I’ve said earlier in this review… what makes this movie scary and eerie is what it doesn’t show and tell.
Finally, what also makes this a good recommendation as a “Flick that will hold you over till ‘Indiana Jones and The Fourth Movie’” is the ending of Mothman, it’s very reminiscent of both Temple of Doom and Last Crusade, which I would love to explain but would ruin the ending.