The problem with watching low-budget horror films is that you never know quite what standard they will be. For every good cheap horror, there must be hundreds of cheap knock-offs, lacking in scares, interesting characters and plot. Still, the cheap horror gives filmmakers space to flex their creative muscles – to try new ideas and new techniques of filming, whether or not they prove to be successful. And in these two points, one very negative and one positive, we find Moth, a film that is truly the amalgamation of poor horror with an interesting element concerning its execution.
Thora (Lídia Szabó) is an enthusiastic lecturer who is interested in the legend of the Mothman. After 22 reported Mothman sightings in the Hungarian countryside, Thora and her student Adam (József Gallai) head out there to investigate and possibly capture evidence of the creature. As they venture further into the country and wind up trapped in the woods, things start to take a turn for the strange, and it seems as though they may not be alone. The pursuit of the Mothman becomes increasingly dangerous, and the two must find out what’s going on before it becomes a fatal endeavour.
Whether you will enjoy Moth or not depends on your tolerance for found footage horror and the premise of people being trapped in the woods. And let’s be clear here – you’d need to really love them, because the horror stuff here would struggle to scare children. If you find such frights as ‘my God, I just saw something off-camera’ and ‘weird noise outside the tent’ to be terrifying, you’ll be in luck.
An issue with the film is that neither of the lead characters are particularly compelling to watch. Their characterisation goes no further than ‘female’ and ‘cameraman,’ and the two actors fail to generate any chemistry. They both were lacking in acting ability, and it doesn’t help that they were lumbered with some of the most clichéd dialogue ever written (in some scenes, you can almost hear an exposition bell ringing – ‘so, do you want to tell me about your mother?’). I don’t want to unfairly criticise them for their nationality, but their accents are rather thick and it’s sometimes difficult to make out what they’re saying. Found footage films are never particularly strong on the character front, but this is a poor showing.
I’ve seen it said that a good twist can really transform a tale, and that is the case in Moth. The movie ends on a twist that I genuinely didn’t see coming but, because of the tedium of the movie leading up to it, lacked the impact it should have had. It’s somewhat of a frustrating scenario because, were the rest of the movie as interesting as its final ten minutes, it would be something really captivating to watch – instead, what we get is an hour of the same old ‘found footage in the woods,’ followed by a genuinely enjoyable game changer that really ought to belong to a far better film than this one.
Even with its ending, there isn’t really enough here to recommend looking for Moth. It’s the same kind of thing we’ve seen far too many times, and it doesn’t do anything new with the formula – rather, it’s more clichéd and dull than we’re used to. At just shy of 80 minutes, it feels twice the length, such is the tediousness of watching it. There are hints of a good film here, but they’re glimpses as fleeting as the Mothman itself.
Director: Gergö Elekes, József Gallai
Cast: Lidia Szabo (Thora), Jozsef Gallai (Adam), Balint Egri (Oakes), Kata Tabori (Madeline), Rob Oldfield (Manny), Dnaiel Szabo (Vagrant)
Running Time: 81 Mins
Image credit: http://topfoundfootagefilms.com/moth-2016-movie-review