ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  mark pellington

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  sci-fi

LENGTH  -  119 minutes

RELEASED  -  25 january 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  screen gems

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the mothman prophecies

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $42,000,000
the mothman prophecies - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the mothman prophecies at

buy the dvd from the mothman prophecies at

a reporter is drawn to a small west virginia town to investigate a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities.

the name of the expert on paranormal activity is leek, the reverse of paranormal expert and author of the novel that the film was based on, keel.


picture from the mothman prophecies

picture from the mothman prophecies

picture from the mothman prophecies


two out of four possible stars

A dizzying array of camera techniques and some good special effects make this film a good experience in a dark theater. Though there are more camera effects than originality about this film. Based on supposedly true events that occured in west virginia, The Mothman Prophecies is a lot more show than tell. The story is intriguing on face value, but the people and the weird happenings in that small Virginia town get lost in the strange cinematography that this film boasts. It's interesting at first, but after a while, the whips and out-of-focus shots get to be overwhelming and get in the way of the story itself. And the characters too.

It's as if the filmmakers decided that fooling the audience with cool camera tricks and extensive use of the focus pull would impress any viewer. But the tactic gets a little old when headaches begin to set in because of all the out-of-focus shots. It's possible that the cinematographer here wanted to try something unique with his filmmaking, but these techniques are used so frequently that they begin to lose their effectiveness. The look of the film begins to take over the characters and their problems. Though at times, this movie is compelling, thanks to a cast which makes the whole idea of the supernatural events quite interesting. Of course it seems that the screenplay's dialogue, not the story, is what's usually lacking.

The "chilling" dialogue uttered by the characters who have been in contact with the mysterious being, who has started appearing to the townsfolk, do not always have the most intelligent things to say. Even though the story is supposed to be based on real events, the dialogue is obviously not the real dialogue from those events. Perhaps the real dialogue might have been more interesting than the words that were put into this film. So unfortunately, it falls to the actors and the weird camera effects to pick up the slack. Though it must be said that the ending to this film, while in that "spooky" genre, seems a little grandiose for what had been presented earlier in the film. The film is small in its proportions. It includes only about a dozen characters and only three or four real main characters.

But in the end, the whole production seems to escalate into an event which doesn't match the feeling of the rest of the film. The last scene doesn't look as though it comes from the same film as the rest of the movie. It's the one time in the movie when the strange camera angles, the out-of-focus shots, and the weird filtered colors don't come into play. Like the film simply jumped into straight action thriller territory, abandoning most of it's attempts to make the film into some sort of unique filmic experience. The ending is almost a let-down, considering how much was spent on creating a picture with enough weird camera tricks to fill ten supernatural thrillers.

It's disappointing that the filmmakers resorted to turning this film into an event picture after having gone to so much work in trying to make it something different. The end of this film could have been kept just as spooky if only those cinematagraphic techniques that had been adhered to during the entire run of the film had been kept in the picture. But something which the filmmakers should be complimented on though is on the length of this picture. After having seen so many films in this past year with no sense of timing and the propensity for being longer than is really needed (like over two and a half hours), this film hit all its marks on time and didn't go overboard in the time department.

Even though the ending is somewhat unsatisfying, the film as a whole presents its chills right on schedule. There are only a few times during the run of the film that the story starts to lag, but these instances are usually cut short due to some supernatural event rocking the characters in the story. For all intents and purposes, this film never drags in the sense that the audience will start wiggling uncontrollably in their seats. In the end, this picture can be filed under the "spooky" category with a special mention for a strange set camera techniques. It's not fantastic or something that's never been seen on the screen before (the story, that is), but there is more than one scene where a good amount of the audience will jump or yell out.

And that element is really what this picture is good for. An entertaining film that should be seen with the lights off, if not on the big screen. And although Richard Gere's performance wasn't the strongest, he did have a decent amount of chemistry going with co-star Laura Linney. And Linney herself gave a compelling if not always consistant performance. Possibly the most interesting performance in the film though should go to Will Patton having been cast in several big budget films in the past ten years or so, Patton takes on a more serious role with this film and his acting is really some of the best in the film.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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