Whatever you think of the bizarre events that served as the inspiration for this movie, I think most viewers will agree that The Mothman Prophecies is an exceedingly good film. Richard Gere and Laura Linney are just fantastic, and the whole production - writing, directing, cinematography - is top-notch. In the hands of a lesser cast and crew, this film could easily have been a great big joke of a disaster that would have inspired nothing more than mockery. After all, the real story of what transpired in Point Pleasant, West Virginia is so bizarre and so outside the range of human experience and knowledge that skeptics basically laugh it off and even many with open minds simply choose to ignore it.
Richard Gere plays Washington Post reporter John Klein, who becomes inextricably linked to the Mothman phenomenon through some kind of weird fate. It begins with the series of drawings made by his terminally ill wife. Two years later, he somehow impossibly ends up in Point Pleasant while driving in a completely different direction during the night. If that isn't strange enough, the first person he meets there accuses him of having harassed his family for three nights straight. Through local cop Connie Mills (Laura Linney), he learns that this is just one of a growing number of strange local reports over the last few days. He soon finds himself investigating reported sightings of a giant Mothman creature with glowing red eyes terrifying local residents. One man in particular seems to have a special relationship with the creature and begins reporting predictions from someone or something calling itself Indrid Cole - predictions that quickly come true. As his obsession with the story - and Cole in particular - grows, heightened by his own questions about his wife's death, Klein becomes convinced that the Mothman is trying to warn him about a great tragedy about to happen.
If you like your storylines wrapped up in a nice and understandable little bow, you probably aren't the ideal audience for The Mothman Prophecies. There are plenty of clues but few answers as to the nature of the phenomenon on display here. That is largely because there is no real explanation of the true events of 1966-67 that inspired the film. Of course, the film has taken a certain amount of artistic license with that story - moving it up to "the present day," linking it to other Mothman sightings since the 1960s, and introducing fictional characters such as John Klein and investigator Alexander Leek (obviously a reference to John Keel, the most prominent researcher of the Mothman sightings) - but much of what you see here was reported by those who lived through the actual events in Point Pleasant. In point of fact, much more of the real story didn't make its way into the film plot - e.g., reported UFO sightings and Men in Black frightening certain townspeople into silence. What is here, though, proves more than enough to fascinate, captivate, and perhaps even frighten viewers, while the performances of Gere and Linney further imbue this bizarre story with an all-important sense of emotional power and humanity. The Mothman Prophecies is a fantastic movie.