[MOVIE REVIEW]A clumsy, moth-eaten story

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[MOVIE REVIEW]A clumsy, moth-eaten story

What if Richard Gere starred as Mulder in "The X-Files"? You can get the unpleasant answer this Friday in local theaters when "The Mothman Prophecies" opens. The movie is based on a supposedly true story that occurred in West Virginia in 1967. Gere plays John Klein, a reporter from Washington, D.C.

As the story begins, life simply couldn't be better for John and his lovely wife Mary. But happiness and misery are two sides of the same coin, and John's bliss is shattered when the couple get in a car accident while driving to the dream house they'd planned to buy. Mary is hospitalized and, on the verge of death, begins to draw a strange and spooky figure repeatedly, something that looks part-moth, part-human. John doesn't fully grasp the meaning of the evil images until he gets stuck in an array of bizarre events two years later.

One night, John drives out of Washington, D.C., with no destination in mind. Out of the blue, his car and cell phone start malfunctioning. He seeks help at a nearby house, but the owner brandishes a gun and tries to kill him, insisting that John had been at the house a couple times before. A policewoman, Connie Parker (Laura Linney) arrives to help John. In due course, the small West Virginia town gets stirred up with the talk of people seeing things and hearing messages of forthcoming calamities from the mothman.

Directed by Mark Pellington of "Arlington Road" (1999), the film is a feast of impressive images and sounds ?red, piercing eyes, chilling computer-generated voices and phones ringing even after they've been disconnected. One scene gradually dissolves and winds up crushed in a stunning effect. Unfortunately, though, the cinematography is the only good part of this film.

Besides the technical virtuosity, the film falls flat. In the first half-hour it seems like a boring romance about a man who can't let go of his dead wife. Then, just when you're about to doze off, the movie erupts in alternately absurd and spectacular images.

The actors do little to save this movie. Gere especially comes off as annoyingly feeble and obsessive. It seems that all he can do is smile at the pretty policewoman. Linney is the exception, as she turns in a solid performance. But the role she plays is not so important.

"The Mothman Prophecies" may be one of the worst horror movies ever made. The imagery it throws out is more irritating than scary, and the thrills never come.

by Chun Su-jin

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