Like any artform where you are the sole creator (or one of very few), and are the one that believes in your work enough to put it out into the world, there comes an endless amount of derision to those of us creating these works. Though these were once seen as vanity projects, they are less this and more seen as projects that maybe weren’t ready for release. Undercooked, underdone, and not fit for consumption.
I get it, and I am sure there are plenty of folks that would look at my creations and say the same.
Some of it is just the usual nonsense trash that people talk about anything that isn’t from some sort of middle man.
Some of it though does come from a place of understanding that, well, not everything is ready for the world.
As I have mentioned many times before, found footage films are a very easy onramp for filmmakers looking to get their work out to the world and, for some, to try to make some money. I get it, and I don’t begrudge it. It’s a great avenue for creativity…or a crutch for the lazy.
It’s up to the filmmaker to take the tool of this subgenre and to make it something special.
In the case of THE MOTHMAN TAPES we have another film that takes the path of least resistance and comes up with something that is little more than a waste of time.
THE MOTHMAN TAPES is the story of an actor on the rocks who has an agent that who cannot find him work. His last hope is for a paranormal documentary his friends and he are making for YouTube will take off and bring the success he feels he has been denied. The trio heads into the wilds of Great Britain in search of the creature they saw in a picture online. It seems to show a winged creature atop a broadcasting tower. Could this be the Mothman? The little scene monster that stalks the air? As they search the area near where the sighting happened they come across a man who is on the same hunt as they are, but who has been at it for months, triangulating an area where supernatural things seem drawn to, and which may be where the Mothman is. They find though that some fame is not worth the risks.
I’ll say it because I always like to remind folks that I don’t get any enjoyment from disliking movies. I am not on anyone’s payroll so I don’t get paid for takedowns. I don’t take joy from disliking people’s passions. The sad fact is though that some movies just don’t work.
That’s the case here.
From the onset it feels wrongheaded as there is no explanation WHY the Mothman, an American cryptid, would be in Europe. There’s an easy way to go around it, but they don’t bother. They just assume that all cryptids have have passports to adventure.
It’s weird and silly.
The problem though is that this bone has no meat on it.
It’s a thin story of a man desperate for fame, and that’s it.
There’s no real set up, there’s no work to make these friends seem like real people. There’s no work to make the creature horrifying.
For a film that has runtime under an hour, this is all easy stuff to stretch the run time. It wouldn’t even have to feel like it was unearned or padding. Instead it would make this a more fully rounded out film. Instead this feels like a really long short film.
The movie plays out as so many of these do, with no real surprises outside of the strange choices the characters make to try to escape the beast. Suddenly it is not just an air creature but one that enters buildings and, hey, we also learn it eats people.
Anything we know of the Mothman is thrown out the window so they can just use the name for a flying bat monster that eats people.
There you go.
As with any of these movies there are ways to make it more interesting, ways to make it feel more like a fully realized film.
Instead, what we have here is what feels like a cash grab and while I love that it appears a whole family worked on this film, I wish they had fleshed it all out more.
I wish they had researched the creature a little and incorporated it into the film and location be darned, it’d be a much stronger film and creepier for it.
Alas, what we have here is a long short film that doesn’t quite deserve your time.
½ out of 5