27 Days of Fright (The Reprint) – Day Twelve

Originally Published Friday 17th October 2008

The Mothman Prophecies

Nearly two weeks into the 27 Days project I found myself wondering the other day if I was becoming desensitised to the horror movie genre. Then last night I sat and watched The Mothman Prophecies and, despite my having seen it several times before, it scared the piss out of me.

Richard Gere stars as John Klein, a reporter with the Washington Post. He has a successful career and a beautiful wife but his world comes apart one night after a car crash lands his missus in hospital. Though not critically injured she is diagnosed with a brain tumour and dies shortly after.

Two years pass and Klein is on his way to see the Governor of Virginia one night when his car breaks down and he has an odd encounter with a householder who accuses him of having visited his house for the past two nights. This, and the fact that he has travelled much farther than he should have in the time he was on the road, lead Klein to investigate the strange happenings in Point Pleasant.

He works with the local sheriff and meets a range of townsfolk who have all had strange visions or mysterious phone calls from a large creature resembling a moth crossed with a man. The visions become more precise and begin to marry with disastrous world events like earthquakes. Klein seeks the aid of an expert in the subject who warns him away from Point Pleasant as he is sure something terrible is going to happen there.

The visions and happenings grow in intensity and Klein and the sheriff see his dead wife in the town. When the governor announces a visit to the local chemical plant Klein believes that the impending disaster will occur there, but like the expert warned, the mothman warnings are often misinterpreted. He returns to Washington but is lured back to Point Pleasant at the worst possible time.

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Mothman is not the only movie on the list that is “based on a true story” but it is the only one that is verifiably true – there really was an incident in Point Pleasant during the sixties or seventies and several of the inhabitants reported sightings of a mothman creature that foretold of the disaster. One of the books written about Point Pleasant became the basis for this movie.

The Mothman Prophecies is genuinely, properly, outright scary, but there isn’t a single frightening moment in the entire film. Instead the atmosphere of the film is so oppressive from the opening moments that you are on edge from start to finish. The scary components are there but are so subtle they are nearly subliminal and this adds to the fear well as you’re not sure why you’re so bothered. In fact, nearly everything is subtle and understated about the movie, including Gere’s performance which is really good to be fair to the guy.

Mothman is a really good example of how less can be more, a great scary movie that doesn’t really on cheap tricks to frighten – a sophisticated, creepy piece of cinema – the thinking mans horror!

Two thumbs up for The Mothman Prophecies.

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