Movie Details

The Moth Diaries

Rebecca is a sixteen year-old girl who studies at an exclusively girls` boarding school. She has taken to recording her most intimate thoughts in a diary, and the object of her growing obsession is her roommate, Lucy Blake, and Lucy`s friendship with their new and disturbing classmate, Ernessa. Around Ernessa swirl dark rumours, suspicions, and secrets as well as a series of ominous disasters. As fear spreads through the school and Lucy is not really Lucy anymore, Rebecca`s writings grows more fevered, until fantasy and reality begin to mingle for her into a waking nightmare that evokes with gothic menace the anxieties, lusts, and fears of adolescence. At the centre of the diary is the question that haunts all who read it, "Is Ernessa really a vampire?" or has the narrator trapped herself in the fevered world of her own imagining?

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: M18
Release Date: 21 Jun 2012
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 1 Hour 22 Minutes
Distributor: SHAW ORGANISATION
Cast: Scott Speedman, Sarah Bolger, Lily Cole, Sarah Gadon
Director: Mary Harron
Format: NA, 2D

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Review
Writer: Elaine Ewe

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As a rule, a film critique's job is to be objective, but with movies like "The Moth Diaries", it is a feat almost impossible to achieve, for this film begs snide remarks such as "Sleeping Pill: The Movie", "Twilight for Lesbians", "Someone Shot Mary Harron And-Took-Her-Identity" and so on.

Based on the young adult novel of the same name by Rachel Klein, "The Moth Diaries" is an example of an overachiever. It tries very hard to infuse itself with the classism that is absent from your usual young adult novels about vampires by touching on coming-of-age themes from the viewpoint of a teenage girl, such as sexuality, discovery of identity and coming to terms with a personal tragedy. In addition, there is a teacher character in the form of Scott Speedman whose lessons about gothic literature ("Bram Stoker's Dracula") provides parallels ("sex, blood and death") to the ongoing story onscreen. The satire could have worked, much like it did in Mary Harron's outrageous "American Psycho", but it did not. It seems as though Harron herself could not quite decide who the target audience was meant to be, as on the one hand, she is adapting a young adult novel while on the other, she is best known for her more explicit and adult directional works.

And so we have "The Moth Diaries", a surrealistic film accompanied by way too much explication. Amidst black-and-white flashbacks and dream sequences, we are bashed over the head with heavy voiceover narration by Rebecca, Mr Davis' literary allusions and expected revelations, as if Harron does not trust her viewers to be intelligent or emphatic enough for the symbolism amid the female adolescent angst drama. Despite the short 85-minute running time, every minute of the film sat through feels like you just walked a mile with a sack of rice on your back; you want to stop carrying it, but you cannot seem to bring yourself to abandon a sack of rice just like that.

To make things worse, the plot itself does not even sound good on paper, unless you sit up at words like "homoerotic longing", "suicide" and "vampire". Set in Brangwyn, a fancy but remote all-girls boarding school that used to be a hotel, where protagonist Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) is a student who comes into the school year longing to move on from her father's suicide. She is best friends with and overly dependent on Lucie (Sarah Gadon), the beautiful and popular girl at school, but their relationship is interrupted by the arrival of a tall, pale, and eccentric new student named Ernessa (Lily Cole). Lucy immediately takes a liking to Ernessa, as the latter works tirelessly to drive a wedge between Lucie and Rebecca, and succeeds in making Rebecca jealous. But Rebecca's jealousy soon turns to suspicion when she realises the similarities between Ernessa and the vampire in her novel, not to mention when one incredulous event happens one after another. This is where the film shows its young adult roots, as the love triangle is just the sort of thing present in numerous teenage girl stories, with the twist being that Ernessa is a vampire-like creature.

Sometimes, good acting and likable leads can be enough to save the terrible script and direction, but unfortunately, there is none in "The Moth Diaries". Sarah Bolger's Rebecca is wide-eyed and awkward, although she should be credited as the only person who actually put in any emoting effort at all as Sarah Gadon is just the typical girl-next-door with good looks and an air of carefree youth who is just the catalyst for the girls-gone-crazy story. Lily Cole as Ernessa is equally miscast, or rather, typecast as the ethereal female beset with sensual malevolence, such as her roles in "The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus" and "Doctor Who". Perhaps that is the effect that Harron is going for, but when Cole is not expected to showcase any form of emotion, her thick set eyebrows and eyes that are set too far apart just makes watching her uncomfortable.

Overall, there is just not enough horror in Harron's "The Moth Diaries" for it to become a cult hit, nor is there enough introspective material for it to become an indie gem. With a narrative composed of lazily connected scenes, a washed-out colour palette and cheap attempts at scares (blood shower!), you could hardly care less about any of the characters or anything that they are doing. One just wonders what the point of sitting through any of it was or why the film was even made in the first place.

Cinema Online, 10 July 2012
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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