Reviewed by: Brett Willis
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