One of the more exciting and difficult to explain of America’s cryptozoological examples is the tale of the Mothman. Sighted many times by many people in and around Point Pleasant, Virginia between November 1966 and December 1967, it’s been called everything from a telepathic alien to some kind of evil harbinger of death (the Silver Bridge, a large suspension bridge connecting Point Pleasant with Gallipolis, Ohio, collapsed during rush hour killing forty-six people just after the last of the Mothman sightings). Over the years, the legend of the Mothman has inspired writers, filmmakers, and artists — not to mention scores of people still struggling with the stories, still trying to make sense of the scatterings of information…still trying to find answers.
Moth, the latest film from Elekes Pictures, written by József Gallai and directed by he and Gergö Elekes, explores a further investigation of the Mothman legend…but this time, reports lead to the countryside of Hungary.
Thora is a university lecturer and amateur cryptozoological investigator. During one of her lectures at a British campus, she talks at length about the “Mothman” story from America, and intimates that similar sightings have occurred recently in Hungary — her intent is to travel to the area of these sightings and see what there is to be seen.
To this end, she asks the class if there are any aspiring camera operators that would be willing to make the journey with her, to record the events (assuming there are any) for posterity. Swedish-born Adam heeds the call, and soon the two are driving along the country roads in Hungary, heading to the places where Mothman has allegedly been seen, moving along Thora’s route from a local hotel (where strange sounds awaken Adam in the night), along wooded, darkened roads, and camping in the forest, hoping to catch a glimpse or record a sound byte. It’s not long before strange incidents begin to unnerve the pair, with deserted cars lining one area of the road and strange clicking sounds in the darkness plaguing their sleep. After their car and most of their gear mysteriously vanishes, they take refuge in an old house they come across…but this night will lead the duo not just to discovery, but possibly to doom as well.
This is primarily a found-footage flick, so you’re going to run into all the shortcomings that such a film involves (shaky-cam, sometimes iffy audio, etc.), but here it’s handled well, and with a worthwhile reason. We get a lot of the requisite “night vision” shots, but considering that they’re trying to capture some kind of nocturnal beast on film, what the hell else would you use?
As with other POV flicks, this one’s a slow starter, but once things get moving, there’s a more than adequate building of suspense and dread without too many cheap scares to spoil the fun. I have to give a nod to the editing on this one; often in found-footage, editing is ham-handed and clumsy, but here I thought editors Gergö Elekes and Sándor Gál did not fall into this trap. The acting of the two leads, Lídia Szabó as Thora and writer/director Gallai himself as Adam, was organic and natural — although some of the conversation was awkward, given the context it was certainly understandable. Most of the FX in the film are just sound effects; you do get a couple of creepy glimpses of something in the darkness, but by and large it’s what you hear that generates the scares here.
Really, it was The Blair Witch Project all over again in a lot of ways, and I really began to find myself a little disappointed at the lack of originality as far as the story itself went — until the last fifteen minutes or so.
I’m not going to give anything away, but I will say that there’s a turn of events that I certainly did not see coming, and it lifted my gripes about lack of originality away and left me thinking “OK guys, you got me — that was a pretty damned fine little thing you did there.”
On that, I will say no more — but it’s definitely worth the trip to get to the end. Of course, it won’t float everyone’s boat, and you folks that just don’t dig found footage should definitely pass it by…but I have to say that I think it’s worth checking out.
Two-tenths of a dime.
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