Directed by: Mark Pellington
Written by:Richard Hatem
Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Debra Messing, Will Patton
Released: May 23, 2002
Grade: A

Creepily, this film is based on a true story.  In 1967, a great tragedy took place at the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  On December 15, a set of traffic lights malfunctioned at the end of the Silver Bridge.  A huge traffic jam formed with the evening rush-hour traffic backed up across the river.  A link then broke on the chain suspension bridge causing it collapse into the Ohio River and 46 of the town’s 6,000 residents were killed.

The shocking incident was attributed to corrosion but what was never explained were a strange series of events in the months leading up to the disaster.  Over 100 official sightings were reported of UFOs and unusual looking men.  In the film, Richard Gere is John Klein, a reporter for the Washington Post.  Driving home one night with his wife, Mary (Messing), their car struck a mysterious object on the road and as a result of injuries, Mary later died in hospital.  Before passing, she drew a strange series of devil-like drawings on a notepad which have haunted John to this day.

What struck their vehicle remained unknown.  Two years pass and on a whim, he gets in his car and starts driving.  He finds himself in the town of Point Pleasant and immersed in its madness.  Talking with popular police officer, Connie Mills (Linney), he is told stories of residents reporting unusual sightings and hearing strange voices and premonitions.  When John starts getting phone calls from something identified by voice analysts as non-human, he starts investigating and uncovers the legend of Mothmen - mysterious beings which have been known to predict the future.  But why has John been chosen by the Mothmen and why have they drawn him to Point Pleasant?

The general public will appreciate the film for its chills and thrills but film connoisseurs will appreciate it for its style.  It’s almost impossible to imagine director Mark Pellington and writer Richard Hatem visioning the final product before starting out.  The film uses new techniques, lots of out-of-focus shots, fast editing, fresh camera angles and eerie colours.  It’s very creepy.  Reminiscent of Pellington’s last film, the much underrated, Arlington Road.

The problem with a good thriller is that whilst you can develop intrigue, you cannot cheat the audience with a false illogical ending.  This happens far too often these days.  Without revealing, the finale for The Mothman Prophecies is almost flawless.  It doesn’t give everything away and doesn’t give John Klein all the answers.  There’s more but I’m not going on the record until you’ve had a chance to see it for yourself.

Richard Gere is back.  After a long run of weak efforts (including Autumn In New York, The Runaway Bride and Dr. T & The Women), 2002 looks like being a career reviving year.  He gives an intense performance in Mothman and critics are also raving about his other new film, Unfaithful, which will be released in Australia in a few months.  It’s nice to see Gere reunited too with Laura Linney after they both appeared in the renowned thriller, Primal Fear.  I’m also glad to see Linney and Gere didn’t form a romantic attachment in this film - it would have been an unwanted detraction from the gripping story.

After a long wait, we’ve finally got the first spark in the 2002 film year.  When people ask me a film to recommend, I can now suggest something with conviction.  The Mothman Prophecies treats the audience with intelligence and doesn’t reveal its cards all at once.  In fact, there are some cards it doesn’t reveal at all.  I love it.