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Film Review: “The Mothman Legacy” Documentary Explores Its Titular Creature in Unique New Ways

Written by: Matt Patti | October 19th, 2020

Film poster: “The Mothman Legacy”

The Mothman Legacy (Seth Breedlove, 2020) 3 out of 4 stars.

The Mothman Legacy is a documentary by writer/director Seth Breedlove that is centered around the infamous Mothman, a legendary creature with a human-like figure, red eyes, wings and the ability to fly, resembling a human-sized moth. Reported sightings of the entity have occurred in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the late 1960s. The Mothman Legacy is a follow-up sequel to Breedlove’s 2017 doc The Mothman of Point Pleasant. In this sequel, Breedlove explores the origins of the Mothman, several first-hand encounters and various theories surrounding the phenomenon.

The documentary begins with a narrator telling the audience about the immense power of a story and how it can affect generations of people in different ways, including making them feel fear. The film then ventures into Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a city at the convergence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers that has embraced its reputation as the home of the Mothman. The town contains a Mothman museum, statue and an annual festival that draws many tourists. The film explores the history of this town and highlights several events that took place in the town that are thought to have been affected or foreshadowed by the appearance of the Mothman. The filmmakers do a good job presenting these stories and the Mothman, itself, through a myriad of visuals: drawings, animations and lifelike CGI. However, the telling of these stories, while decently compelling, may actually be the least intriguing aspect of The Mothman Legacy.

The forest surrounding Point Pleasant, West Virginia in THE MOTHMAN LEGACY @1091 Media

What is more riveting than the eyewitness accounts, themselves, are the parallels that the viewer sees between each tale. There are specific aspects of each story that are consistent across the board, for example the way the creature walks. All of the eyewitness accounts describe the Mothman as having difficulty standing up straight and walking in a manner that suggests that it doesn’t use its legs much. Such a specific observation really makes the viewer think and provides a strong case for the creature’s existence. However, what’s more enthralling is how the origins of the Mothman are strangely similar to the beginnings of other well-known mythical creatures. A comparison between the Mothman, Banshees and other urban legends show that they have more in common than one would think. Perhaps most captivating is a theory the film explores that the Mothman, if it exists, is not a creature, but rather a paranormal entity or a vision that functions as a harbinger of doom. The filmmakers are objective in telling the legend of the Mothman and never tell the audience what to think. Instead, they present several different opinions and theories and let the viewer decide what they believe.

Overall, even though it tends to randomly jump from topic to topic, at times, The Mothman Legacy is an engaging study of the legend of the Mothman. The filmmakers make a great choice to present standard documentary-style testimonies and also do something a little different by exploring the origins of the Mothman and the parallels of its influence to that of other urban legends, even if the doc becomes a bit unorganized sometimes due to the flip-flopping. This choice keeps the film fresh and keeps the viewer questioning their own beliefs about the subject. The Mothman Legacy ultimately provides an informative, unique and thought-provoking look at one of America’s most mysterious urban legends.

The Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in THE MOTHMAN LEGACY @1091 Media

Matt Patti has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films from a young age. He has lived in the Baltimore, Maryland, area since 2015 and is a graduate of Stevenson University’s Film & Moving Image program. Matt is currently back at Stevenson University, working as the School of Design, Arts, and Communication's Studio Manager.

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