The Mothman Prophecies appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although a few small problems appeared, usually Mothman presented a very strong picture.
Sharpness generally seemed excellent. A few wide shots displayed very slight softness, but those examples occurred infrequently. Much of the movie remained nicely accurate and well defined. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, but I did notice a little very minor edge enhancement at times. Print flaws seemed almost non-existent. Some light grain popped up at times, but I saw no other examples of defects.
Mothman featured a stylized palette. At times, colors became intentionally cold and stark, whereas other times, the hues were made to seem oversaturated and dense. The DVD handled the various gradations well, as the tones always came across as solid and appropriately defined. Black levels seemed deep and dark, while shadow detail was clear and sensibly heavy without excessive thickness. Overall, The Mothman Prophecies provided a satisfying image.
The Mothman Prophecies also offered a positive auditory experience. The film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seemed fairly heavily oriented toward the front spectrum, but it broadened nicely much of the time. The forward channels showed fine stereo imaging for the score, and they also provided a good sense of general atmosphere. Really, that attitude dominated Mothman. Not many scenes featured direct localization; the bridge collapse worked well in that domain, but it was an exception. Instead, the soundtrack more strongly favored a creepy ambience meant to accentuate the movie’s chills. It didn’t work, but that tone emanated nicely from the surrounds.
Audio quality appeared good. Dialogue always remained natural and distinct, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed bright and vivid, and the score showed solid dynamics and clarity. Effects also came across as accurate and vibrant, and the whole track evidence excellent low-end response at times. When appropriate, the flick demonstrated a very strong bass punch that lacked any boominess or distortion. Ultimately, the mix for The Mothman Prophecies failed to make “A”-level due to its relative lack of multichannel ambition, but the track seemed pleasing nonetheless.
How did the audio and picture of the Mothman special edition compare to those of the original DVD? To these eyes and ears, they seemed virtually identical. I thought the new release might tighten up the picture a little because it required less compression; the prior disc included both widescreen and fullframe versions of the movie, which meant the former was crammed into one side of a single-layered DVD. The extra breathing room didn’t appear to alter the presentation, so the special edition offered the same fairly high quality visuals and sound seen on the previous platter.
While the original release of Mothman included almost no extras, this new two-DVD special edition offers a fair amount of materials. Most appear on the second disc. DVD One provides some rudimentary filmographies for director Mark Pellington, writer Richard Hatem, and actors Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Debra Messing and Will Patton.
The first disc also adds an audio commentary with director Mark Pellington, who offers a running, screen-specific discussion. A fairly low-key presence here, Pellington nonetheless proves to be chatty as he covers many different topics. He relates a little about the origins of the project and he also goes into issues related to working with the actors, technical concerns, and other production areas. However, Pellington mostly concentrates on storytelling subjects as he attempts to elaborate what he wanted to do with the piece. His remarks help flesh out the movie and make it seem somewhat richer, though I must admit he didn’t change my mind about the flick. Pellington’s generally flat demeanor makes the commentary a little tough-going at times, but the director includes enough insight to mean that fans should enjoy his track.
On DVD Two, we get additional pieces. Search for the Mothman gives us an account of the historical record behind the movie. The 43-minute and 35-second program includes archival materials, movie clips, and recent interviews with Mothman and Other Curious Encounters author Loren Coleman, Mothman Prophecies author John Keel, researcher Dan Drasin, eyewitnesses Linda Scarberry, Doris Deweese, Marcella Bennett, Loretta Faye Campbell, Bob Elliott, Everett Wedge, Tom Ury, Charlene Wood and Dottie Campbell, and local residents Keith Aeiker and Ralph Newman. We hear about the overall history of similar incidents before it focuses on the events that allegedly took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, starting back in November 1966.
”Search” nicely embellishes the movie, as it offers a fairly interesting examination of the events described by witnesses. It feels a little sensationalistic as it goes for the spooky vibe more than an objective tone, but it goes through the Mothman story in a reasonably clear and concise manner. The information creates a tantalizing tale that actually seems eerier than the movie itself.
Unfortunately, “Search” lacks much of a counterpoint. It appears to buy into the story too heavily and fails to really attempt to debunk the legend. This makes the documentary seem less than objective as it appears to promote the Mothman as a reality. Nonetheless, it works well and is a worthwhile program for those interested in the Mothman.
Next we find a two connected featurettes. Day By Day: A Director’s Journey – The Road In runs for 30 minutes and one second, while Day By Day: A Director’s Journey – The Road Home goes for 30 minutes and two seconds. The break between the two occurs for no apparent reason; “In” doesn’t conclude with some definitive event, and the split seems arbitrary.
Essentially a video diary that focuses on Pellington, “The Road In” starts with preproduction on September 27, 2000, and follows the film through many different facets. We learn of budget problems and watch location scouting, planning for stunts and technical pieces, cast rehearsals, the start of principal photography and the first week of the shoot. “The Road Home” picks up where the prior show left off with Day Nine of filming and follows the shoot. We see lots of tensions over issues like time pressures, crew irritation over Pellington’s changes in shots, problems related to delays due to technical elements, shooting the bridge stunt, and the end of filming. The program formally concludes with a June 2002 valedictory statement from Pellington.
An abnormally blunt and revealing documentary, “Day By Day” doesn’t tell the making of the film in a terribly formal way, but it gives us lots of great glimpses behind the scenes. The biggest lesson learned here? Boy, does Pellington curse a lot! (Strangely, his f-bombs are bleeped in part one, but they fly unaltered during part two.)
Actually, probably the most compelling aspect of “Day By Day” comes from the way it illustrates the enormous pressures put on directors and most members of movie crews. Rather than hide antagonism, the program almost stresses the tension. After a while, I started to wonder if the participants ever didn’t argue. But that’s a welcome relief from the usual happy talk seen in these kinds of programs, and I thought “Day By Day” was an entertaining and informative look at the production of Mothman.
After this we get five Deleted Scenes. Presented non-anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 audio, the clips last between 75 seconds and four minutes, 26 seconds for a total of
12 minutes, five seconds of footage. The longest depicts a scene similar to the one in Close Encounters where the locals amass to wait for the arrival of UFOs. It expands the relationship between John and Connie but doesn’t go anywhere otherwise.
The four other clips don’t seem much better. One elaborates on a local character affected by the events, while the remaining three provide mood pieces related to John. The best shows his fear after he gets a batch of phone messages at a motel, but the others tend to meander.
We find a music video for “Half Light” by Low with tomandandy featuring Indrid Cold. Created by Mothman director Mark Pellington, the four-minute and 48-second clip ties to the film more closely than most videos in this genre. However, it still uses the tired combination of movie snippets and lip-synched performances by the musicians, so it doesn’t go much of anywhere.
In addition, the DVD includes the movie’s theatrical trailer, which appears in anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. We also find ads for xXx and Formula 51; both receive the same anamorphic 1.85:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment.
Though the tale has potential, I can’t say that The Mothman Prophecies impresses me. The movie feels too dull and lifeless to ever become anything engaging. The DVD presents very good picture and sound, and this new special edition adds lots of quite interesting supplements.
Due to my lack of enthusiasm toward the movie itself, I can’t recommend The Mothman Prophecies to anyone who doesn’t already know they like the flick. If you don’t own the earlier disc, the special edition is the way to go. Fans who possess the prior release should get the SE if they like supplements. If they don’t care about extras, then they should remain happy with the bare-bones disc, as both seem to provide identical picture and sound quality.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES.