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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mothman (2010)

Ohhhh, Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies...how I wish I could quit you. I mean, yeah, we've had some good times, but there's so many times you've hurt me...left me feeling dirty...but I keep coming back...*ahem* Greetings, readers, Bill here, with the latest SFCOM to reel out across the cathode ray tube, MOTHMAN. Now, I'm a little bit of a cryptozoology nut (I can hear the peanut gallery going, "Noooo, you? Really?") and the case of the Mothman, a series of sightings of a gray, winged, red-eyed creature in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966 and 1967, has always fascinated me. UFOlogist John Keel wrote an account of the encounters entitled The Mothman Prophecies, which was later adapted into a pretty good thriller starring Richard Gere. But this is the first film I'm aware of to adapt the story of the Mothman into a Creature Feature.

Spoilers follow.

A group of teens partying and drinking on a riverbank at night go for a swim, and the youngest member of the group, Jamie, accidentally drowns. The teens panic, and decide to hide his body, putting a story together that they walked him home and never saw him again.

Ten years later, one of the group, Katharine (Jewel Staite, of FIREFLY fame, looking cute as a button as always) is a semi-successful Washington reporter, though limited to puff pieces about dogs wearing goggles and such. Her boss assigns her to return to her home of Point Pleasant, West Virginia to cover the annual Mothman festival.

She reconnects with her old friends on what turns out to be the tenth anniversary of Jamie's death. While Derek welcomes her back, the rest of the group (Mindy, Sally, Richard, Jared and Casey, if I caught their names correctly) is uncomfortable with her return after ten years of silent absence.

Katharine wanders the town with Derek, collecting the story of the Mothman from various residents, most notably the blind old man, Frank, the skin around his eyes burned and peeled, allegedly by an encounter with the Mothman.

Soon, one by one, people are dying, their eyes gouged out -- the modus operandi of the Mothman. Realizing what's going on, Katharine gets the rest of the story from Frank -- that Mothman was once Chief Cornstalk, an Indian leader tortured and murdered by white settlers, who made a pact with an evil spirit before dying. He was buried in a mirror-lined coffin; thus, the Mothman can only manifest into the world through reflective surfaces. And he only comes into the world to punish those who keep their crimes secret...

Can Katharine and Derek survive the Mothman's attack? Is there any possibility of avoiding reflective surfaces?

THE END?

Well, that was...something. I like the supernatural avenger/punisher of sin twist on Mothman, very PUMPKINHEAD. The "can only manifest through reflective surfaces" idea is also pretty neat.

The design of the creature has me feeling mixed. Granted, it's pretty standard SFCOM CGI, so that's a point against it right there. Loosely-speaking, the monster fits the description of the Mothman witnessed in Point Pleasant in 1966-67, being humanoid, tall, and gray with giant glowing red eyes and a roughly ten-foot wingspan. On the downside, the animators saddled it with this ridiculous perpetually-open mouth, which gives it a slack-jawed surprised expression. On the upside, the skin texture they gave it has a nice burned/scarred texture to it. Yeah, kinda stretching there.

Most of the acting is flat, with only Jewel Staite and Jerry Leggio, in the role of Blind Frank, standing out in any way. Hell, most of the male members of the little group are indistinguishable until they die, and the only thing separating Sally from Mindy really is hair color. Just absolutely the most uninteresting cast I've seen in ages.

Final Analysis: Jewel Staite (my favorite cast member from FIREFLY) + my favorite cryptid + a blind man who is nevertheless a crack shot with a shotgun = a fairly decent two hours. However, take that fairly decent two hours and add an incredibly dull supporting cast, a goofy design for aforementioned favorite cryptid, and random supernatural butterflies and you get something that's slightly less than decent.

Overall, I give MOTHMAN (2010)...

TWO BARRELS OF TOXIC WASTE.

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