by Jef Burnham
Premieres April 24th, 2010 on SyFy.
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Following the enormous viewership of the SyFy Original premiere of Mega Piranha, their chances of a repeat with Mothman look pretty grim considering its relative lack of gimmicks. After all, Mega Piranha featured teen pop star Tiffany, Barry Williams of The Brady Bunch and giant piranhas. But what Mothman has that Mega Piranha doesn’t is a little bit of decency. Everything about Mega Piranha screamed overt ploy to garner high ratings, and while they certainly accomplished that, I don’t think it helped the struggling channel secure any new regular viewers, as one can assume that the majority of the non-SyFy regulars tuned in for the gimmick and nothing more. Mothman, on the other hand, is the sort of programming that kept my dial fixed on the channel for hours on end through my childhood and teenage years (this was back when it was still called the Sci Fi Channel, of course). Maybe it’s not original, but at least it doesn’t make me feel ashamed to have ever been a fan of the channel.
Mothman’s #1 selling point is admittedly that it stars Jewel Staite, who we sci-fi geeks know and love from her work on Firefly and/or Stargate: Atlantis. Here she stars as Katharine, a reporter who reluctantly returns to her home town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia to cover the annual Mothman Festival, celebrating the town’s very own legendary monster (if you’re unaware, this is a real legend in the real Point Pleasant, WV, by the way). But of course, Katharine and her friends come to discover that in the movies all creatures of myth are actually real and their existence is caused by the Native Americans in one way or another.
Sure, it couldn’t get more formulaic than this, but isn’t that what most people are looking for when they tune in to some made-for-TV movie? Sure it is. Is that right? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But who am I to judge? I grew up on this stuff. I still like formulaic horror flicks and I indeed found this to be rather enjoyable for a television original, despite the cheapness of parts of the production (the Mothman Festival in particular appears to have been constructed in its entirety by 8-year-olds) and its lack of any original, thought-provoking material whatsoever. Mothman has Jewel Staite fighting a giant, blood-thirsty moth monster, for Pete’s sake! I can’t say as I need anything else from a movie like this.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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