Review: The Moth Diaries
The Moth Diaries is a gothic school drama starring Sarah Bolger (Once Upon a Time), Lily Cole (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Sarah Gadon (Being Erica). Please be warned there may be spoilers in this review – skip to the very bottom if you want a quick summary and to see the score.
The film centres around Rebecca, a girl still coming to terms with the death of her father. When she returns to boarding school she is overjoyed to be reunited with her friends, especially Lucy. However when a mysterious new girl called Ernessa arrives everything changes, as Lucy becomes friends with her and people even begin to die.
The Moth Diaries is a film that makes a good effort at being gothic tale with emotional story of discovery and acceptance at its core, but unfortunately I didn’t find it particularly satisfying. At first glance I assumed it was a vampire tale, and the film does elude to vampires. However, by halfway through it feels like we’re dealing with a ghost – so which is it? In the end, I think its probably a vampire, but I’m still not entirely sure. Nor does the film quite manage to achieve a sense of atmosphere, despite all the gothic cliches and mood used. The use of a full moon again and again, and one that looks like it’s an effect, does stick out.
The dialogue feels a little stilted in this film too and sometimes even out of place. For example, when the last of her friends has to leave the school Rebecca says “All my friends are gone.” as she hugs the girl goodbye. It’s an odd parting line to give your friend before she goes.
I also thought all the girls in the school looked a bit too pretty. This is probably just a nitpick, but almost every school girl looked perfectly turned out – perfect hair, perfect eyebrows, flawless skin. It’s almost distracting, and it means that Ernessa doesn’t actually appear as other worldly as she could’ve done. She becomes just another perfectly groomed girl with a taste for vintage. Surely Ernessa would have looked more exceptional and mysterious if there were a few girls with acne around?
Out of everything in the film though one thing I particularly didn’t like was the English tutor Rebecca has a crush on. This tutor not only invites her to sit in his car when she wants to talk but then touches her hand, and later kisses her. This is creepy, and worse it doesn’t seem to have a purpose in the film. It’s never addressed properly or resolved, and neither of the characters talk about it afterwards or really acknowledge it – and that made me feel rather uncomfortable. You can’t just have a tutor kiss a student and then not address the emotional and moral implications, what is it saying to your audience?
To sum up
The Moth Diaries has all the necessary cliches to be a good gothic film but it never quite gels or manages to create an atmosphere, whilst the mythology just seems confused. Worth a watch once for its great cast of actresses, but otherwise pretty bland.
The Moth Diaries is out on DVD on the 16 September.