I labored greatly over the decision whether or not to include this review under the banner of the Cryptid Crypt. The film is much more a psychological thriller than it is a creature feature. The nature of the Mothman itself is not unlike this film, in that one can constantly ask “What is it?”, and never receive a definitive answer. Ultimately I decided to include it based on two things. 1) There needs to be way more entries into the Cryptid Crypt, so i better not let an opportunity go to waste. 2) Monsterquest devoted a whole episode to the Mothman, which as far as I’m concerned, gives him all the Cryptid Cred he could ever need.
“We’re not allowed to know”
This film flew under my radar for a great many years. 2002 was an interesting year for Horror fans, post Scream era, just as Asian Horror films were starting to catch on, and before Hollywood Remake fever hit it’s frenzied pitch. Several films came out during this time which didn’t fit into any category and stood out as stellar films in their own right, such as 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever, May, and of course, The Mothman Prophecies. During this time, Not only did i not have regular access to the internet, but i was frequently quite broke. My only hope of seeing Horror films was to rent them, and with a limited budget, i wanted to make sure i wasn’t disappointed by what i selected to watch. Ultimately i relied on word of mouth as well as what trailers i was able to see on TV. I can’t recall whether i was unimpressed with the trailer or if i heard a poor review, but I stayed away from this film until 2 weeks ago. I can’t even remember what made me decide to finally give it a chance, but once i did, I felt compelled to watch it several more times. Each time i would end the experience feeling uneasy and slightly on edge. Not afraid, but as if the film was trying to tell me something that i wasn’t able to decipher yet.
As cheesy as that may sound, it fits in not only with the Narrative of the film, but with the overall execution as well. The story follows John Klein(Richard Gere), as he struggles to move on with his life in the wake of a Car accident that claimed the life of his wife Mary(Debra Messing). Before she succumbs to her injuries, Mary seems terrified and disoriented because of what may have been an encouter with the Mothman causing the crash, leaving behind strange drawing s of an ominous winged creature she says she saw that night. Two years later, John is functioning, but clearly broken. He is sent on assignment to Richmond Virginia yet mysteriously drives to Point Pleasant West Virginia in a span of time that should not have been physically responsible, and with no memory of having done so. Once in Point Pleasant, John becomes wrapped up in the accounts of several locals who are reporting strange and inexplicable occurrences and sighting of a familiar looking winged creature.
Soon, John becomes totally consumed with the phenomena that he is consumed with finding answers. About this time is when he speaks with Ingrid Cold. Only conversing to John over the phone, Cold is a mysterious and haunting figure whom we are to assume is the Mothman. Cold makes prophecies about disasters, and chillingly tells John in specific detail things that could only be known if he were inside John’s head.
“If your friend thinks he’s talking to God, he’s off by more than a few degrees.”
Ingrid Cold is the personification of the unexplained within the film. Giving voice to occurrences that cannot be. What do you do when the things that cannot be, suddenly ARE? John tries in vain to connect the dots through the divide of rational and irrational and comes dangerously close to losing himself in the process.
This movie is a very strange trip. It manages to achieve a certain aesthetic flow, drawing you in while adding mysterious, often surreal layers, yet never once is it forceful or feel like it’s leading you by the hand. Several scene transitions are accompanied by mild electrical interference, giving the impression of being monitored. Adding to the semi voyeuristic tone is the use of POV camera angles, but who’s Point of View are we seeing this from? When Mary wakes up in the hospital, she darts her gaze frantically around the room, the POV appears to be hiding behind a partition and peering out at her bed. Other shots appear as it they are peeking out from behind trees, drifting above moving cars, or even flying over the city.
This film haunts on a subliminal level. As i mentioned before, I have now watched it several times, not because I feel like I’m getting closer to some hidden truth, but because i have the unshakable feeling that there is more to the film that I am not seeing. If a character on screen should appear in a mirror, their actions don’t always match the reflection. This may be the most blatant clue to the viewer that things may not always be as they appear to be. The film is an adaptation of a book by the same name written by the real life John Klein who documented the supposedly true accounts of Point Pleasant locals who had encounters with the Mothman, leading up to, and after the infamous Silver Bridge Collapse in Point Pleasant. How much is truth and who much is fiction will likely never be answered to universal satisfaction, yet the film certainly succeeds in making me look closer at not only the film itself, but the mysterious events that took point in Point Pleasant, and I encourage you to do the same.
7/10 Collapsed Bridges
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