There’s something so esoteric and mystical about this movie that it’s quite hard to put into words. You kind of have to feel it but let us start from the beginning. The Mothman Prophecies is a mystery movie based on a novel of the same name that is, in turn, based on real events. The novel is written by journalist John Keel who actually witnessed a series of strange events in West Virginia back in the sixties. Keel and other witnesses describe seeing a strange creature, the mythical Mothman numerous times. I already fear I’ve said too much about this case so I’ll stop here.
The Mothman Prophecies belongs to a series of fascinating supernatural mystery movies of the early 2000s. However, the trend, I believe, started in the late nineties with movies like The Sixth Sense and Stigmata. After those fine movies, we got Stir of Echoes and The Ninth Gate. And while these movies feel the same, there are two that are practically the same. I’m referring to the movies Dragonfly, White Noise, and Frequency. So, if you’re looking for similar movies, those are your options. All of them are like one long and entertaining X-Files episode. And that’s the best way to describe the movie we’re talking about today.
It’s not your usual supernatural thriller as it also deals with grief, love, and the big question of what happens when we die. Is there something after this life we’re living now? So, depending on where you are in your life and what has happened to you so far, it might hit you harder than you think. I watched The Mothman Prophecies sometime after my grandmother passed away and it did feel different. Especially since it’s drawing inspiration from events that really happened. However, you should know that the end result is a bit messy but more about that later.
John Klein and his wife had a car accident where they first saw a moth-like figure. After her death, he continues to see the moth figures everywhere and decides to investigate this. His quest leads him to the little town of Point Pleasant, where he will start to get more and more information on this mystery.
While I loved how The Mothman Prophecies feels like this strange dream where you’re not really sure what’s going on, I still think that the storytelling should’ve been more coherent. We’re going through events never fully exploring them and treating them as little scare checkpoints. This need to maintain a suspenseful and creepy atmosphere throughout the movie sometimes overwhelms the viewer. Richard Gere anchored the movie with his excellent performance and helped it stay on course.
I would go so far as to say that he’s the reason why this movie is so watchable and engrossing. It’s interesting to draw parallels between the dreamy and elusive atmosphere of this movie and the real folk tales that seem like nightmares. The tales may seem frightening and true to some, but we all know that there’s no Mothman and the same goes for the movie. It ultimately lacked a coherent story, but it’s one interesting ride through that creepy Point Pleasant area. And who knows, maybe this is much worse than a winged half-human half-moth.
The whole thing reminds me of a legend of another mythical creature, the infamous Chupacabra. And to make things more interesting, Chupacabra did become even more popular after an episode of The X-Files exploring a similar case was aired.
Director: Mark Pellington
Writers: Richard Hatem, John A. Keel
Cast: Richard Gere, David Eigenberg, Debra Messing, Tom Stoviak, Scott Nunnally, Laura Linney
Fun Facts: A further investigation into claims John Keel made proved that a lot of what he claims happened was embellished or didn’t happen at all. Or, in most cases, happened only to him.