62/100 (81 min, 2011)
Plot: Rebecca is suspicious of Ernessa, the new arrival at her boarding school. But is Rebecca just jealous of Ernessa's bond with Lucie, or does the new girl truly possess a dark secret?
Director: Mary Harron
Writer: Rachel Klein (novel)
Stars: Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon and Lily Cole
Sex, blood, Lily Cole
The Moth Diaries is not yet another teenage take on vampire/monsters legends. It has something movies rarely have anymore - genuine style and atmosphere. Mary Harron who directed American Psycho and captured the essence of the novel without even showing off most of the events is again on the director's seat here. It's bizarre how her career went from being very close to success to approaching the oblivion. Whilst American Psycho was not the masterpiece of directorial work, it was better than most movies out there yet Harron only went on to make TV movie The Notorious Bettie Page (as lovely as the film was it didn't get much acclaim) and then pretty much disappeared.
While a lot of bad things can be said about The Moth Diaries and its story, which is its weakest link of the film, it tells a tale many of people will relate to - the roots of the protagonist's fragility lie in the loss of a parent, here in quite dramatic events. Her father was a famous writer who committed suicide. The main heroine Rebecca, asks interesting questions in her search for her own self - does it mean she is prone to taking her own life too?
However, the true thing people will probably see as something they have been through is the support Rebecca finds from her best friend Lucie.When her father was gone, Lucie, as always, was there for her. Ah, to have best friend. Someone you can tell all your secrets to, who always listens, who is always there. Someone to hung out with, gossip with, admire and love. And then to watch this friend slip away.
With the appearance of mysterious Ernessa in the luxurious boarding school both Rebecca and Lucie are staying, things start going horribly for Rebecca. Lucie is fascinated with the new girl and starts to spend most of her time with her, pushing Rebecca away. Ernessa does weird and creepy things, she never seems to eat and Rebecca seams to be the only one noticing all the things that are suspicious about the new girl. Since Lucie is so fond of Ernessa and Rebecca suspects there is something wrong with the mysterious new student it causes a serious damage to their long friendship. And with that Rebecca loses the only person she truly trusted.
With all of that 'The Moth Diaries' while it suffers from weak story is the film with genuine ambiance - dark, Gothic horror, ambiance with all the creepy rooms, old pictures and diaries, young pure girls fighting off evil and beautiful gardens surrounding old mansions. While the amount of inspirations and parallels overwhelms the story itself it makes for some nice visuals - there are gorgeous flashback sequences to the time when the boarding school was a hotel, parallels between this story and Dracula and not just with Becca's best friend name being Lucy and references to other famous vampire stories. Old school vampire stories.
The film's biggest strength is the atmosphere which pulls you in and almost intoxicates you - it's dark and it's fascinating, much like with "The Others" or quite recent "Awakening". There is something I always found to be creepy about boarding schools - all those girls being disciplined there, away from their families, locked in Gothic mansion along with the vast world of literature which as we all know nourishes imagination. Also as with American Psycho Harron really knows what elements can amplify the overall feel of the story - whether it's quiet piano music coming from another room or porcelain dolls, covered with blood.