The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Will Patton in The Mothman Prophecies

Another true story (said with tongue firmly in cheek) inspired The Mothman Prophecies. What we’ve got here is an X-Files-type story with a bigger budget, wrapped around the actual event of a bridge falling into a river in Ohio in the late ‘60s. This is connected to several appearances in the weeks before the disaster of a winged creature with red eyes. (In fact, wasn’t there an episode of the X-Files based around the mothman, or did I dream it?)

Anyway, this version is relocated to recent years, and has Richard Gere as a bereaved reporter drawn to a small town where he encounters lots of spooky events leading up to the disaster. Gere displays the complete range of emotions from confused to puzzled, but he’s helped out by some fine supporting actors including Alan Bates and the great Will Patton. Mark Pellington, who previously made another oddball thriller with Arlington Road, directs it extremely well and adds lots of stylish touches, although the concentration on atmospherics and lack of a concrete villain (or even a rubber monster) may well irritate most viewers. But given the title and the star, the whole thing is much better than anyone had a right to expect. Just don’t expect a man in a giant moth costume.

Mild Peril Rating: ★★★★☆

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