The Reel Review
After his wife dies amidst mysterious circumstances, a Washington Post reporter (Richard Gere) finds himself inexplicably drawn to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where the local sheriff (Laura Linney) tells him about similar strange occurrences that have been taking place. This horror/mystery is loosely based on the alleged Mothman sightings that occurred prior to the deadly collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967.
Despite a surprisingly lightweight, almost nonsensical story, director Mark Pellington incorporates clever camerawork and a chilling score to create a creepy mood throughout the film. The story would have benefitted greatly from more of the Mothman urban legend and less of the main character’s obsession with his dead wife, but the committed performances from stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Will Patton keep the film afloat.
Just when the story seems destined to go off the rails in the third act, it returns to its initial premise, that the Mothmen contact people to warn them of impending disaster, resulting in an intriguing finale.
• The actual collapse of the Silver Bridge took place on December 15, 1967, killing 46 people after an I-bar on the bridge gave way.
• Director Mark Pellington provided the voice for Indrid Cold and also had a cameo appearance as a bartender in the film.
• The legend of The Mothman began in November 1966, when two couples from Point Pleasant told police they were followed by a giant grey creature with ten-foot wings and glowing red eyes as they drove outside of town. Dozens of others soon reported similar sightings. A wildlife biologist later told reporters that the description fit the sandhill crane, a bird that can grow five feet tall with a seven foot wingspan.