Katherine (Jewel Staite) is an ordinary high school girl living in a very unusual town. Growing up in Point Pleasant in West Virginia she knows all too well the legendary creature that the locals whisper about and kids hide from at night, the mythical creature known as the Mothman.
It is not the beast that forces her to escapes her home town but a very real and very horrible secret. And after 10 long years in Washington D.C where she becomes a journalist, she finds herself forced to go back to cover the famous Mothman festival, leading to her being reunited with the group of friends also involved in that one tragic night.
As the town celebrates its monstrous urban legend Katherine digs into the sightings and stories behind the Mothman. However when her buddies start disappearing she starts to believe that the spooky story that made her home town famous might have a lot more truth to it than she first thought.
Although made for TV, what sets Mothman apart as a horror movie is that the majority of its story is based on the real life legend of the Mothman. Like The Mothman Prophecies before it, the film ties its fictional plotline to the real life encounters and evidence that surround the urban legend.
First sighted in 1966 by a young couple from Point Pleasant, the being was described as being a ‘large white creature with glowing red eyes and a ten foot wing span’. As the legend grew more sightings followed and the creature was dubbed Mothman, mainly due to the fact that Big Bird and Batman where already taken.
Although the beast didn’t attack anyone the witnesses where unsure of its intentions. As sceptics speculated that the towns folk where actually seeing a large bird called a Sandhill Crane, the reports kept coming in with many linking the creature to UFO sightings.
Things took a tragic turn for the town when on December 15, 1967 the Silver Bridge collapsed killing 46 people. Many linked the Mothman with the tragedy either saying the sightings where a sign of the impending incident or perhaps the cause of it. Either way, the Mothman legend lived on with Point Pleasant holding its first Annual Mothman Festival in 2002 and erecting a 12-foot-tall metallic statue of the creature in 2003.
Taking all this history, the sightings, plus the events of the Silver Bridge disaster, writers Patrick Walsh and Sonny Lee craft their own story in Mothman, blending fact to enhance their fiction and making the monster an active spirit of retribution rather than a warning.
The cast including Firefly’s Jewel Staite do a great job, transforming from the idiotic teens caught up in a horrible accident (which prompts the Mothman’s wrath) to haunted adults whose lives are tarnished by the tragedy and secrets that bond them in blood.
Sadly the films budget and special effects do not live up to the ideas and imagination in the script. And rather than keeping the reveal until the end, director Sheldon Wilson insists on showing the monster off, leading to the realisation that although well designed the Mothman doesn’t look half as scary as it should do.
The Mothman Prophecies may be far superior as a creeping, dread-filled drama, but effects aside this TV movie is a decent horror full of ideas and well worth watching – especially if you are an urban legend aficionado or mythical monster maniac.