from Film Forum, 01/31/02
The Mothman Prophecies, a new paranormal thriller directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road), stars Richard Gere as a journalist sent to identify a ghostly presence in a small West Virginia town. A local cop (Laura Linney) helps him track down the moth-like monster that has been sighted in the vicinity of dreadful disasters.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' critic says, "Pellington's eerie film promises more than it delivers, but is short on substance."
Lindy Beam (Focus on the Family) says, "Mothman departs from the norm in its acknowledgment that evil spirits exist and make contact with humans, but it doesn't take them seriously enough to imply that they can and should be overcome."
Mainstream critics like Roger Ebert squash Mothman. "The Mothman is singularly ineffective as a threat because it is only vaguely glimpsed, has no nature we can understand, doesn't operate under rules that the story can focus on, and seems to be involved in space-time shifts far beyond its presumed focus. There is also the problem that insects make unsatisfactory villains unless they are very big."
My favorite critical responses of the week come from Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal) and Wesley Morris (Boston Globe). Morgenstern says, "This film will fail as proof that our planet has been visited by entities more advanced than we are, but will succeed as proof that scripts can be written, rewritten, and green-lighted by entities less advanced than we are." And Morris says the film is full of horror clichés: "The phone rings so often and so menacingly that terror appears to need its own receptionist."