04 December 2012 | Eyes of the Mothman

I have to admit it: I have a soft spot for shows about UFOs, Bigfoot and other assorted nonsense. The good part it, I often like to yell at the television about now stupid all of it is and marvel at the gullibility of people. Still not sure what it really says about me.

Now bear in mind, I don't personally believe in any of this stuff, I just find it entertaining. (Although truth be told, the ghost ones are so ridiculous that they're not even in the guilty pleasure category anymore. People freaking themselves out in the dark with night vision equipment is utterly stupid, even by these low standards.) I do not believe in the chupacabra, the Jersey Devil or Mothman, but in the case of the latter, in "Eyes of the Mothman", we seem to have an entire town, Point Pleasant, West Virginia, that is defined by the Mothman story that climaxes with the collapse of the town's bridge in the 60s, resulting in the death of scores of people.

The filmmaker is sympathetic to the subject and the people he interviews, but to his credit, I'm not sure if he's a full-fledged believer trying to rationalize his belief, or just telling a story as judiciously as he can about a town's folklore. In some respects, it's all here: Indian curses, environmental pollution, a terrifying winged creature with glowing red eyes, men in black, hovering lights, encounters with strange persons, cigar-shaped craft and finally, a collapsed bridge. Seriously, this is all in there, but told in such a way that it seems to make sense even if you don't believe any of the conclusions. It is difficult to imagine that one town could be the center of so much weird activity, but I think (or hope) the filmmaker's goal is to show how modern folklore takes shape and becomes part of the local vernacular. The people in the film who claim to have encountered Mothman have no doubt about what they've seen, but what's fascinating is how people give structure to what they've experienced with other details: the men in black, did pollution from the old munitions center mutate something, are those lights just experimental aircraft, etc. This tends to remind me of the Roswell story, where the murkiness of certain events gets more elaborate with each telling until a coherent story emerges, even if it's one too fantastical to accept.

"Eyes of the Mothman" is available on Netflix.