Movie Review

THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror, some sexuality and language

Reviewed by: Brett Willis
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romantic Thriller / Sci-Fi
Length:
2 hr. 10 min.

Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing, Nesbitt Blaisdell | Directed by: Mark Pellington | Produced by: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Gary W Lucchesi, Gary Goldstein | Written by: Mark Pellington, Richard Hatem | Distributor: Screen Gems

This supernatural thriller (supposedly based on true events) is a typical modern suspense film; minimal on substance, but constructed to keep the audience off-balance and guessing all the way through. That being the case, there’s little I can say about it without ruining its intended effect.

Happily-married John and Mary Klein (Richard Gere, Debra Messing) have just bought their dream home (and even tried out the floor for size) when Mary sees a strange vision—somewhat like a giant moth—and crashes the car. She dies, but from something unrelated to the crash. In the last hours before her death she creates macabre drawings, also resembling moths. Two years later, John finds himself in Point Pleasant, WV where many previously-reliable people are hearing voices or seeing mothlike visions similar to those Mary experienced. Even the local Police Sergeant (Laura Linney), John’s low-key love interest, is affected. John decides to persist in uncovering the meaning of this phenomenon. A researcher (Alan Bates) has a theory that the Mothman is some kind of primordial instinct or warning system of impending disasters (perhaps within ourselves, perhaps external). Does this warning system serve any useful purpose, or will things just happen the way they were going to happen anyhow? Sorry, I mustn’t give away the answer.

Content Warnings: There are some violent deaths (not graphic); slight profanity (one f*, some bodily function terms and some cursing); two attempted-sex scenes with no visible nudity. The film’s intended atmosphere is one of creepiness throughout, slowly building to a climax; but I’d say it mostly fell flat in that department. The good acting and the tricky camera approaches weren’t enough to hold the mood.

If you’re just looking for two hours of escapism, you could do better than this but you could also do much worse. If you’re liable to take the Mothman seriously—well, that’s another story.

Many people do experience “warnings” of disasters, take appropriate action, and avoid harm. If a supernatural manifestation is of God, it always has a purpose. If it comes from some other source, its purpose (if any) is less certain. At age fifteen I once received a clear “warning,” and acted on it. The event I was warned about (a car crash) happened later that day just as predicted, and by obeying the warning I possibly saved my own life and those of some of my friends. At the time, I was fighting against God’s call on my life; but I was nevertheless thankful for His great grace that kept me alive that day and allowed me to surrender myself to Him three years later.

Year of Release—2002

Viewer Comments
Positive—I did not think the plot had anything to do with beings who were necessarily evil. Some previous comments here reference the Mothman or Mothmen as actually existing, and that it/he/they are demons. I understood the film to be suggesting there were beings on a higher plane of understanding than humans. The film made them seem creepy, but not really threatening. When I hear things like this, I don’t think it is automatically sacreligious. While I’m not an alien/bigfoot (and now Mothman) believer all the way, I think it is reasonable that God created more than humans, and more than what humans can understand, in his world.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Andy, age 20
Positive—The film’s script starts with the first word, “Jesus” spoken in vain. I found the film overall quite gripping, but must imagine that a lot of Christians would find find the events (especially about the “Mothman”) quite confusing. The above reviewer, answered the subject quite clearly, in that demonic powers (spirits) do exist, and as a Christian going to watch this film, you need to understand clearly that this film is about such “forces.”
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Gideon Cresswell, age 23
Positive—For a thriller, a nice change. Mothman delivers a creepy suspenseful story which held me on the edge to the end WITHOUT sick graphic content typical of this genre. In short, Mothman holds it own with its plot and acting instead of desensitizing gore. As far as thrillers go, refreshing.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Todd Adams, age 34
Negative—I agree that The Mothman Prophecies was objectionable primarily in its portrayal of evil omnipotent. None of us can deny the power of evil in this world, but one needs to be careful in viewing movies like this because it makes it seem like evil is more powerful than good… one of You-Know-Who’s oldest tricks in the book to make himself seem bigger than God. I didn’t like the movie overall.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—KS, age 22
Negative—The Mothman Prophecies has a few jumpy scenes. But the plot is ridiculous and isn’t worth sitting through for 2 hours. The Sixth Sense and What Lies Beneath hit the spot. They were good movies. But this movie is just a waste of money and time. DON’T SEE THIS MOVIE.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Aaron Arneson, age 17
Negative—If you like suspense/scary movies with a lot of loud noises and stuff coming out of nowhere, you might like this. I personally have become very sensitive to this stuff since I met the Lord. This movie is based on actual events which makes it more freaky. It also makes demonic power seem really powerful with evil being in control (although the evil plan is thwarted by Richard Gere’s character). There was no sexual stuff in the film (other than a short make out scene), but it was too unsettling for me to recommend it to anyone as viable entertainment for a Christian. I personally think this kind of stuff desensitizes us and have seriously rethought my view on entertainment after seeing this movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Jason Nielsen, age 27
Positive—In short, “The Mothman Prophecies” is the most well-crafted suspense thriller since “The Sixth Sense” and can well be considered a triumphant stepping stone for director Mark Ellington. I guess that from a conservative Christian standpoint, the film is pretty offensive, dealing with such material as the paranormal and prophecies from strange, unearthly beings, all the while against a paranoid atmosphere. But I try not to worry about these things too much, even though I am a Christian, I realize that movies of this nature almost never set out to try and brainwash the American public…
—Eric Schmidt
Movie Critics
…1 F-word, 5 scatological terms, 8 mild obscenities, 1 religious profanity, 10 religious exclamations…
—Kids-in-Mind
…All sorts of spooky and creepy supernatural events and/or encounters occur during the film, and viewers may find them unsettling, suspenseful or downright frightening…
—ScreenIt!