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The Daily Tar Heel

'Mothman Prophecies' Provides Creepy Thrills

Three Stars

The town of Point Pleasant doesn't stay true to its name in the good-looking but flawed new thriller "The Mothman Prophecies."

One night, reporter John Klein (Richard Gere) finds himself in the West Virginia town, but he can't remember how he got there. He meets a local police officer (Laura Linney) and learns about a number of strange things that are going on.

Several of the townspeople have seen a strange figure with red eyes. Others have heard strange voices over the phone.

This plethora of mystery captures the attention of Klein, whose wife (Debra Messing) died two years before in a bizarre car accident that he thinks might be connected to the phenomena in Point Pleasant. Upon further investigation, he ties the occurrences to a mythological moth-like creature that can predict future disasters.

At its best, "The Mothman Prophecies" is a well-made thriller that never needs killing and bloodshed to keep the goose bumps raised. Director Mark Pellington has real talent -- his extensive use of varied camera angles works to pile on the chills.

When the camera closes in on Klein's face, the audience wonders what might be behind him. When it targets him from a distance, the audience gets the feeling that something is watching him. The filmmakers continue to dazzle with a wide array of interesting lighting effects and scene transitions.

Unfortunately, while the film is a visual triumph that also benefits from good performances by Gere and Linney, it's lacking in a few major aspects.

"The Mothman Prophecies" doesn't do a very good job of mixing its two storylines -- that of the mothman itself and that of Klein and his dead wife. Sometimes, the plot recklessly veers from the scary to the melodramatic. Overall, the lack of focus hurts the film.

The ending and resolution also undermine what the filmmakers have accomplished technically. Like many thrillers, this one closes with a pretty significant twist, but it's not enough. Too many loose ends are left untied and too many questions about the mothman itself remain unanswered.

Perhaps Pellington stuck too closely to John Keel's book, on which the film was based. Not only does the movie have to explain the mothman, but it also has to suitably present the complicated psychological drama of Klein's life in a reasonable amount of time.

"The Mothman Prophecies" isn't very successful at juggling all of its elements, reducing its own impact as a thriller. But nevertheless it still doles out some pretty good scares.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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