IMAGINE coasting along in your perfectly ordered life when the powers that be decide to send you the mother of all wake up calls.
That is exactly what happens to John Klein (Richard Gere) in this atmospheric thriller from Arlington Road director Mark Pellington.
Klein is a respected political correspondent with the Washington Post. He and his beautiful wife, Mary, (Debra Messing) are enjoying a happy, and blissful life.
Driving back home after finding the perfect new house, Mary suddenly swerves and crashes the car.
On waking up terrified in hospital, the only thing she will say is "You didn't see it, did you?"
The injuries she suffers lead to the discovery of another serious medical problem and she never leaves the hospital again.
While collecting her personal effects, Klein discovers a journal filled with feverish images of an enormous moth-like figure.
Was his wife delirious?
If not, then did she know what was about to happen?
Two years later, the traumatised Klein is trying to avoid a blind date set up by well meaning friends by driving to Richmond, a short distance from Washington.
After his car inexplicably fails in the early hours of the morning, he is forced to seek help at an isolated house nearby.
But the welcome he receives is totally unexpected.
He finds himself staring down the wrong end of Gordon Smallwood's (Will Patton) shotgun.
He's not in Richmond. Somehow, without knowing it, he has driven 400 miles to the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
Not only that, but the anxious man with the shotgun is insisting that he has been knocking on his door at the same time for the last three nights in a row.
When local police Sergeant, Connie Parker (Laura Linney) arrives, Klein discovers that this is not the only weird thing that has happened in Point Pleasant recently.
No, in fact Mulder and Sculley could have a field day here.
Strange sightings and portents have appeared all over town - unexplained lights, electrical disruptions, fevered dreams, disembodied telephone messages and more frightening glimpses of the Mothman from his wife's journal.
Worse, the sightings seem to be indicating something terrible is about to happen.
The Mothman Prophecies is loosely based on fact.
It is based on John A. Keel's novel about the Mothman sightings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in 1966 and 1967 (although the film is set in present day).
As anyone is aware, you should always take claims of "based on true events" with a liberal pinch of salt.
But this doesn't mean that the film is any less enjoyable. The "true events" here are geographical and include the spectacular ending to the sightings in Point Pleasant.
What they don't try to do is offer a neatly tied ending to events that really don't have one.
Rather, the film deals with notions of precognition versus destiny and cause-and-effect relationships.
If there is such a thing as prophecy?
What good is it if destiny is unwilling to let us change anything?
The film succeeds in disturbing the audiences with a nagging, pensive pace and a doubt that something isn't right here.
Pellington keeps this claustrophobic tone by keeping the camera in a series of tight close-up shots, the sense of unease is infectious and chips away at the audience, drawing us into the story.
Add to that a very creepy soundtrack and you have a well-crafted chiller in the style of the X-Files but thankfully one that doesn't try to give us all the answers or turn into a creature feature.
The Mothman is never more than glimpsed, its motives and allegiances are never fully revealed.
The story is instead character-driven.
Richard Gere is excellent as the emotionally injured Klein and proves that, yes, he can actually act given the right material. He dexterously moves from emotional cripple to action hero in a realistic, believable way.
He is supported by a talented cast, including a welcome scene-stealing performance from Alan Bates.
Unfortunately, Laura Linney is not really given the chance to show us what a talented actress she is and has to settle for being stoical support for Gere.
The Mothman Prophecies is a welcome change from the conspiracy driven 'truth is out there' school of thought preached by the X-Files and its imitators.