August 17th, 2012
Dear Moth Diary,
I just finished sitting through this movie helmed by American Psycho
director Mary Harron 'cause I figured that sort of pedigree would be a good thing. Check! It's one of those rare horror movies anymore that's
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rated R, so that's one more check. All-girl boarding school: check. Female vampire, even though no one actually calls her that: double check!
Being optimistic and all, I figured I might be treated to an inversion of the traditional male-oriented vampire myth, a welcolmed change of pace after the whole Twilight
deal with its spineless, vacuous female lead. At worst, there'd obviously be lots of nubile teenage-ish girls sucking on each other. Plus, y'know, boobies. I'd get something intellectually stimulating or something the-other-kind-of-stimulating is what I'm saying, I guess. Instead, The Moth Diaries
is kinda dumb and really
Oh, but wait, Fake Diary Entry! I'm getting ahead of myself. The Moth Diaries
is based on the young adult novel of the same name by Rachel Klein, and it was published three years before the first Twilight
book so you totally can't call it a ripoff. Anyway, Sarah Bolger stars as a teenaged girl named Rebecca who's still reeling from the recent suicide of her kinda-sorta-renowned poet of a father. Her all-girl boarding school would seem to offer a welcolmed distraction from all the dark thoughts churning around in her head, and...hey! For a while there, it kind of does.
She's once again sharing a room with Lucie (Sarah Gadon)
, her bestest friend in the whole world
, 'Becca and her pals play Rock Band, they party with the least naughty kind of drugs, and OMFG the new English teacher (Scott Speedman)
is a total babe!!!!!!!!11!. Oh, but all that comes crashing down when a strange looking girl with the equally strange name of Ernessa (Lily Cole)
moves in across the hall.
All of a sudden, Lucie starts going all Renfield, polishing Ernessa's shoes, fiercely defending the new girl's honor at every turn, and pretty much abandoning her old friends. No one ever sees Ernessa eat
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talks way too joyously about death. There was that one time where she dipped her finger in Rebecca's nosebleed and licked it, which is...hmmm. Oh, and kind of everyone around her either gets booted out of school, falls deathly ill, or is savagely murdered. Number of mysterious illnesses and deaths before Ernessa...? I don't know, but I'm guessing 0
. The tally afterwards...? Lots!
And then there's oodles of stuff about suicide and sex and hallucinations and moths popping up everywhere and...
The Moth Diaries
is kind of a trainwreck. It's littered with such clunky dialogue as "Can't you see their hovering spirits entwined through eternity -- just like a poem?" and "I'm not going to indulge you in your ridiculous obsession!" It's a character-based horror film with thinly-sketched characters and borderline-nothing in the way of horror, so...yeah, that's not a good thing. Genre films don't necessarily need to deliver scares
, but they should at the very least be moody and atmospheric. The Moth Diaries
not only fails on those fronts as well, but it never really seems to be trying.
Everything Ernessa does takes place off-camera, ostensibly to lead viewers to believe that Rebecca might be imagining all this, although the movie never successfully sells that as a realistic possibility either. Basically no one in the cast has much of a personality. They do things, and some of them have deliriously over-the-top tics like the crazy Asian chick
who drinks and tells stories of sex with girls and throws chairs out of windows and skateboards down the halls and Spring break WOO!, but you don't ever feel as if you know
any of these girls. Even
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Rebecca -- the lead of the movie! -- is defined almost entirely by how she reacts to other people, having seemingly nothing of note to call her own.
There isn't meat to any the friendships. A whole lot of the performances are stilted and unnatural, and although I like Sarah Bolger well enough, she doesn't come close to selling it when Rebecca's at her most emotionally frenzied. I'm given no reason to care about any of these characters or anything that happens to 'em. Um, that hardly anything happens throughout the course of the entire film isn't a plus either.
The sapphic subtext demanded by a vampire movie set in a girls' school is barely there. There are pointless subplots like Scott Speedman's English teacher who...you just sit through the whole flick wondering when he's going to start pawing at Rebecca, that inevitably happens because why else would he be in the movie?, and there's pretty much no fallout or consequence to that at all.
The Moth Diaries
seems like it's starting to say something about grief and nascent adulthood and blood and life and death and sex and identity, and then it doesn't. The movie rushes too quickly through all of the character stuff for any of that to make an impact, far too little happens for The Moth Diaries
to function as a plot-driven film, and...I dunno, essentially nothing about it works. It feels like huge chunks of the movie were gutted out for pacing, screaming ahead towards a suspense-free crescendo that I didn't realize was supposed
to be the climax until it was over.
Anyway, Fake Diary Entry, I know you're a book that doesn't actually exist and don't have a credit history or a walletful of a cash, so I probably don't have to keep going. Still, if you were wondering if The Moth Diaries
would be a worthwhile use of your time to buy off Amazon or check out on Netflix, I think I'd write Skip It
in bold and italics, kinda like that.