Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

Washington Post Columnist John Klein (Richard Gere) prepares to buy a new home with his wife, Mary (Debra Messing). John is basking in the glory of his happy and magical marriage with Mary, but a bizarre car accident changes everything.

After the accident, Mary is diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, but John is more worried about the circumstances surrounding the accident. A moth like creature startled Mary seconds before the crash, and Mary continues to feed her obsessions by drawing numerous pictures of the same creature. Eventually, Mary loses her fight with tumor after numerous chemotherapy sessions. One night, John receives a call about Mary’s floundering progress. John rushes to the hospital for one last good-bye, but the doctor breaks the news of Mary’s death upon John’s arrival.

Two years after Mary’s death, John takes a trip to Richmond, Virgina. Along the way, John’s car shuts off in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia at 2:30 am. Looking for help, John knocks on Gordon Smallwood’s (Will Patton) door for the chance of a phone call, but Gordon and his wife, Denise (Lucinda Jenney)  aren’t happy to see John. Gordon recognizes John from previous visits at 2:30 am, so Gordon persecutes John as a stalker. Forcing John into his bathtub with some persuasion from a shotgun, Gordon lowers his guard, when Sergeant Connie Mills (Laura Linney) arrives to settle the dispute.

John’s unexpected pit stop in Point Pleasant turns into an investigation to discover the origins of the Mothman entity. Apparently, various citizens (including Gordon) in Point Pleasant  reported sightings of the Mothman creature, and John notices the similarities between submitted Mothman drawings to Connie and Mary’s drawings of the Mothman creature before she passed away. Desperate for more information, John travels to Chicago to speak with an expert named Alexander Leek (Alan Bates).

John’s obsession to unravel the mystery of the Mothman takes a dark turn, when John receives a message for a phone call from a deceased Mary. John tries to convince Connie to believe in the realistic possibility of a looming tragedy involving the citizens of Point Pleasant after a serious of ominous warnings connected to the Mothman’s prophecies, but John is forced into a tough decision. The first choice? John can patiently wait until noon for the otherworldly phone call from Mary, or John can take a shot at spending a happy Christmas with Connie in Point Pleasant. But fate alters John’s plans, when the Silver Bridge suddenly collapses……….

The Mothman Prophecies features a nice set of solid performances, with Richard Gere standing out amongst the pack, as an infallible leading man. Although, I don’t think it’s fair to judge Debra Messing one way or the other, because her screen time is limited to sporadic “here and there” appearances.

Do you believe? It’s a reoccurring theme throughout The Mothman Prophecies. John wants to believe in the Mothman and the prophecies, because he’s looking for answers and closure. But there’s one scene, where Connie bursts John’s bubble to bring him back to the real world. John is waiting for a dead Mary’s phone call, but Connie urges him to return to Point Pleasant to join her for Christmas, so he won’t be alone. A frantic and broken John wants that one last chance to say good-bye to Mary he missed two years ago, but Connie tells him the cold hard truth with no sugar coating: Mary is dead, and she’s not coming back. John is just using his beliefs in the Mothman to hide his pain over Mary’s death. On top of that, Mary reminds him you can’t cheat death no matter what, and it’s as simple as that.

It’s a soul crushing scene for the John character, because here, he accepts the truth from Connie’s words. John finally makes the decision to join Connie on Christmas, but as he’s leaving, the phone rings at noon. John, fed up with his own damaging obsession for the Mothman, rips the phone cords out of the wall, and he smashes what’s left of the phone on the ground…but the phone is still ringing, as John tries to leave. John is clearly disturbed, but John is determined to move on, and refuses to break his promise to Connie, so he leaves without answering the ringing phone. It’s an eerie sequence of events to witness, and I was pondering the “What ifs?” because it’s hard to ignore the possibilities, if John answered the phone.

John, feeling a sense of peace and relief about sticking to his decision to ignore the Mothman stuff, returns to Point Pleasant for Christmas with Connie. Lines and Lines of cars are stuck on the Silver Bridge……and the devastating collapse of the bridge sinks numerous cars into the freezing waters below. John jumps into the water, and he’s able to save Connie before she drowns or freezes to death in the water. On the back of an ambulance, a fireman reveals the death toll to John and Connie: 36. Why is this number significant? Well, before the collapse, Connie had a dream about drowning in a lake. Under the water, Connie is surrounded by Christmas presents, and to end the dream, Connie hears a voice telling her to “Wake up” as number thirty-seven. Here, it’s revealed Connie was supposed to die after the bridge collapsed. The Mothman Prophecies ends with a close-call shot of Connie and John sharing a fortunate embrace on the ambulance. The subtle foreshadowing was a nice touch for this particular twist, because it’s not so easy to predict the steps leading up to the tragedy.

Although, I have to admit, The Mothman Prophecies constant attempts at cleverness feel tedious at times. During John’s research, numbers from dreams are used to determine the real life tragedies connected to the Mothman’s prophecies. Yeah, at certain points I got the feeling I was watching The Number 23, and that’s not a compliment.

Still, The Mothman Prophecies is an intriguing psychological thriller with a unique premise and some genuinely chilling and creepy moments. A few examples are the scene, where John is stranded on a seemingly deserted road in Point Pleasant at night, and the other is John’s first verbal interaction with the Mothman over the phone at the local motel. The Mothman Prophecies isn’t perfect, but I was hooked into John’s never ending mission to discover  the truth in a battle of  heartache VS beliefs of the unknown and supernatural from start to finish. It could’ve been better, but The Mothman Prophecies has enough redeemable qualities to justify a viewing, especially if you’re looking for something scary late at night.

Rating: 6/10

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