Wednesday, May 26, 2010

revisiting the mothman prophecies

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing, Lucinda Jenney, Alan Bates
Directed by Mark Pellington; screenplay by Richard Hatem, from the book by John A. Keel (covers of Keel's book shown above).

Special DVD edition 2003

The first time I saw this film, I was out of town on a video shoot. I was alone in my motel room, coping with the uneasiness of the situation in my usual way: leaving the television on after going to bed. On this particular night I found myself staying up far too late, watching a mesmerizing film called The Mothman Prophecies.

Fast forward to 2010, and I'm working on building my DVD collection of old favorites. The other day I found myself thinking about the film again, and became curious to see if it was as eerie as I remembered. As it turns out, it was.

The special edition has a second disk with additional material, including multiple accounts of supposedly true stories about ordinary people encountering a huge mothlike creature. From a filmmaking standpoint, I was surprised and amusesd to hear about accounts of mysterious men in black supposedly visiting those people who claimed to have witnessed the mothman apparition. This clearly formed the concept behind another non-recent film, Men In Black, one I viewed again, by coincidence, just a few days ago. I had no idea that the Mothman legend included government men in black suits, referred to as the men in black. (Of course, the film MIB played it for laughs, riffing on the legend of government men in black suits running around on coverup detail; this film is one of my guilty pleasures).

Don't look for an action film here, nor will you find a Saturday matinee-style horror flick. Creators of The Mothman Prophecies do not present you with a mothlike creature anywhere near as specific as the ones on the book covers shown above. Their restrained approach makes the film far more chilling, and the result is a beautifully crafted, eerie experience with many unnerving scenes that can still have a strong effect-- even without being viewed alone in a motel room, late at night.

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