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The Mothman Prophecies: Special Edition

Mark Pellington's third feature film, The Mothman Prophecies (2002), isn't the most convincing or thoughtful genre piece — like a lot of supernatural thrillers, we're never really sure what the film believes. But if you're looking for creepy thriller, this could be regarded as a B- effort. Journalist John Klein (Richard Gere) and wife Mary (Debra Messing) are the perfect cinematic married couple, but after finding the house of their dreams (and practicing coitus there) they get into a car accident. Though the crash doesn't kill either, Mary still feels bad and gets a cat-scan, which reveals a rare and fatal tumor. But, before she dies, she asks John if he saw the thing that ran in front of their car and draws pictures of a strange, nearly demonic creature. Two years later and still haunted by her death, John finds himself on a long overnight drive to Washington D.C., but while on the road his car dies in front of a house. And when he goes up to call for a tow, the man who lives there, Gordon (Will Patton), pulls a gun on him and claims John has shown up at his house the last two nights, exactly at 2:30 a.m. Unable to explain how he got so off course to be in their neck of the woods (Point Pleasant, West Virginia), and sure he couldn't have been at Gordon's house the night before, John decides to spend the night in this small town. But it seems the whole village has had experiences with a "Mothman." Meanwhile, Gordon begins to converse with it, a figure that calls itself "Ingrid Cold," whom John finds bizarre — until Ingrid calls him. Knowing that Cold's presence leads to death or mayhem, John is stuck trying to figure out the Mothman's puzzle before some tragedy strikes — he's having a hard time keeping his grasp on reality as he keeps seeing his wife. What makes The Mothman Prophecies most effective is a familiarity with Pellington's previous film, Arlington Rd. — both pictures successfully mine the paranoia of fate, but to different, auteurist-friendly results. Mothman also understands that with a thriller, ambient noise and a strong visual sense are good ways to keep an audience unsure and unsteady. With all that is good about the movie, one wishes it didn't peter out towards the end, or at least had some kind of "head in a box" sucker-punch behind the mystery of the Mothman. The weak conclusion is less compelling, but even without something profound to mark it, The Mothman Prophecies is a well-told tale. Columbia TriStar's two-disc special edition presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (dropping the alternate pan-and-scan transfer from the earlier disc). Disc One features a thoughtful audio commentary by director Pellington and filmographies, while more new features can be found on Disc Two. First up is "Search for the Mothman," a 44-min. look at the incident the film was based on, followed by "Day by Day: A Director's Journey," which is broken up into two half-hour sections going from pre-production to post. Also on board are five deleted scenes (running in total about twelve minutes), trailers for this and other films, and a music video. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.

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