The cinema release of The Moth Diaries somehow managed to pass me by completely, and – for better or worse – I suspect I’m not alone in that. The reviews it got at the time weren’t what you’d call enthusiastic. It was made in 2011 and directed by Mary Harron, who also directed American Psycho, which is probably her most notable work.
The Moth Diaries is a non-too-challenging, nearly neo-Gothic, US High School teen horror flick with a few twists thrown in. I doubt very much this would have been made into a movie had it not been for the success of the Twilight franchise, although it is based on a novel of the same title, written by Rachel Klein. I’m afraid I can’t tell you whether it does justice to the book because I haven’t read it.
The story is set in an all-girls boarding school, where the arrival of a strange new girl (Ernessa Bloch) coincides with a series of accidents. Over time the lead character, Rebecca, begins to suspect Ernessa of being creepy and dangerous.
There are jealous friendships, vampire references, a handsome male teacher in an all-girls school, and even a spooky basement. Throw in a few parallels between Rebecca and Ernessa – both lost their fathers to suicide, both were avid diary-keepers – and there you have the essence of The Moth Diaries.
View it as a ghost story, or view it as the tale of one girl’s descent into madness and delusion – the choice is yours.
Lily Cole’s otherworldly looks are spot on for the role of Ernessa Bloch, and Sarah Bolger makes a decent enough fist of things in the lead role, Rebecca. Many of the other performances tend toward the one-dimensional, however.
It’s not the subtlest of movies, but subtle doesn’t come as standard in this genre. You might find there’s too much script making its way into the dialogue in places, I know I did. But for all of that, The Moth Diaries manages to build some tension in the right places and is an enjoyable watch