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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Mothman
Mothman
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // October 25, 2011
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Rich Rosell | posted November 13, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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I scream, you scream, we all scream when a movie is labeled a "SyFy original", because typically that means a steaming pile of forgettable nothingness. Sure, these films are made for little money (if what's seen on screen is any indication) and the network cranks them out with apparently any disregard for quality, operating solely on the principle of quantity. It seems the marketing people are finally wising up a little, because you really have to strain your eyeballs to find the dreaded word "Syfy" on the backcover of the 2010 made-for-TV Mothman, but trust me it's there. And we all know what that means: a loose 90 minutes or so of low-rent special effects, questionable acting and usually a familiar lead that is the hook to draw in curious viewers who think "hey, I liked that person on such-and-such show".

That familiar face for Mothman is Jewel Staite - lovable mechanic Kaylee Frye from the cult favorite Firefly - appearing here as Katharine Grant, lovable cub reporter who is sent back to her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia to cover the 10th Annual Mothman Festival. The problem for Katharine is that ten years earlier as a high school senior she was part of a coverup of an accidental death with a group of so-called friends, and she hasn't been back since. This forced return to Point Pleasant (the actual town of the real-life Mothman myth) reunites Katharine with the old gang, but it seems that vengeful Mothman, he of the glowing red eyes and huge wings, is back to inflict eye-gouging justice - for reasons that are never completely clear or logical.

I'll forgive a horror film for logic holes - hell, they all have them at some point - but in Mothman we are expected to swallow a giant horse pill of stupidity with regard to the pivotal accidental death scenario that drives the rest of the narrative. The premise is so shaky, so ridiculous that it almost defies explanation, and other than seeing Jewel Staite in a bikini the entire sequence - clearly meant to be the "dramatic" meat to bind us to these characters - is 100% laughable. Director Sheldon Wilson - who has a couple of SyFy titles under his belt - should be deeply ashamed of the script by former It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia writers Sonny Lee and Patrick Walsh because it insults viewers within the first 15 minutes and it does little to right that ship for the remainder.

All is not a total loss here, to be fair. Staite acts circles around the rest of the cast, and while this isn't necessarily Emmy material she delivers her blocky dialogue with a watchably sweet finesse. But then again maybe that's just my eternal Kaylee geek love shining through. Things get a bit better when she hooks up with the scene-stealing-crazy-old-blind-guy-who-knows-Mothman-history-and-how-to-kill-it Frank (Jerry Leggio). Frank is a B-movie hoot, uttering obligatory lines like "you have to know what you're dealing with!" with craggy gusto while Staite is left to handle the climactic showdown with the third-tier visual effects meant to represent the titular monster. I didn't hate this dreadfulness so much when it was just Katharine and Frank together, but the rest of the time I was cheering for each character death because I knew that meant I was that much closer to the end.

Video
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Lionsgate is all over the place, waffling between blocky grain, soft edges, bright colors, dull colors and night scenes that look like they were shot through cheesecloth. It looks decent occasionally, but the few moments of clarity do little to give this transfer anything close to consistency.

Audio
Audio choices are presented in either 5.l or 2.0 Dolby Digital. If you insist on sitting through this dreadful film do yourself a favor and opt for the 5.1, which offers a slightly wider soundstage when it comes of sound effects, music and the like, though both tracks deliver generally lackluster-but-discernible dialogue.

Extras
The only extras are a handful of quasi-teasers and promos for things like Psychoville and EPIX HD.

Final Thoughts
Even the adorable presence of Jewel Staite is not enough to salvage this tedious SyFy original. Sorry Jewel, but this one is pretty rotten.

Skip it.
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