Explaining the Inexplicable; FILM: Richard Gere Stars in Chilling Fact-Based Psychic Drama the Mothman Prophecies

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

Explaining the Inexplicable; FILM: Richard Gere Stars in Chilling Fact-Based Psychic Drama the Mothman Prophecies


Byline: ROB DRISCOLL

THE millennium-era craze for supernatural thrillers, in the wake of The Sixth Sense and the The Blair Witch Project, continues unabated with the chilling new fact-based psychic drama The Mothman Prophecies - but for its star Richard Gere, the appeal for making it lay first and foremost with the emotional pull of the script.

"I didn't say, 'I want to make a scary movie', " smiles 52-year-old Gere. "The script came and I could see the possibilities, although it went through a lot of drafts to find the balance between a scary movie and a smart movie."

The Mothman Prophecies, based on true events, examines a series of inexplicable events through the eyes, and mind, of one man. Gere stars as respected Washington Post journalist John Klein, driven to extremes to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his wife's death - and how they might be connected to the strange phenomena in a town 400 miles away.

Ultimately, the film is about premonition, and specifically the eerie premonitions that many people had in real life, over a 13-month period, envisaging the Silver Bridge disaster in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in which 46 people died on December 15, 1967 - after the bridge collapsed and cars plummeted into the icy waters below.

More than 100 people claimed to have seen "the Mothman" during those 13 months - a huge flying creature with a wingspan of over ten feet, with large, red, glowing hypnotic eyes. The stuff of far-fetched horror tales? Or something more chilling and truly unfathomable?

For Gere, the strongest attraction of making The Mothman Prophecies was that all cliches of the horror genre were studiously avoided - which is why the Mothman is only ever suggested, but never properly seen by the audience.

"That would have been the B-movie version of this, " says Gere. "The assumption is that this is a metaphysical story, not a ghost story, meaning that we're making the adults' thinking version. So the trick and brilliance of director Mark Pellington was finding a visual vocabulary that would suggest a presence, and give you the kind of chilling feeling that was much deeper and larger than 'Don't open that door!' This was more like a dream, and dreams aren't usually 'There's something behind the door', they're more a feeling that seems to take over everything."

Gere himself proclaims to have no strong interest in psychic phenomena.

"Although if someone came up with the Loch Ness Monster I'd be interested, " he says. …

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