16 year old boarding school student Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) is a troubled teen that is still mentally scarred by the suicide of her poet father two years earlier.
Keeping a diary of all her most intimate thoughts, Rebecca seems to be healing from the past with the help of her friends – especially roommate Lucy (Antiviral’s Sarah Gadon).
Things take a dark turn as a new term starts with a new arrival, a mysterious girl named Ernessa Bloch (model turned actress Lily Cole) who Rebecca takes an instant disliking too.
Although her friends brush Rebecca’s suspicions off as her just having an overactive and morbid imagination (or maybe even jealousy), she is determined to discover Ernessa’s secrets. However, the more she probes the more misfortune befalls the school. What is Ernessa hiding and will Rebecca be able to stop her taking her friends away from her or is she doomed to repeat the terrible fate of her father.
The Moth Diaries, adapted from the novel of the same name by Rachel Klein, may appear at first to be another product of the over populated tween horror fad in recent films. However like the recent Mortal Instruments movie it has a lot more to it than it may first seem.
Don’t get me wrong, its target audience is most definitely adolescent girls. But it’s open acceptance of dark subject matter such as suicide and depression make it a lot more interesting and accessible to all audiences.
Part coming of age story, complete with drug experimentation, boy crushes, besties, school pressure and family problems The Moth Diaries is also partly a grand gothic tale taking in themes from Dracula and more – all overtly and cleverly referenced as the girls are taking a class on the gothic literary genre in English.
The novel they discuss most in fact predates Bram Stoker’s by 25 years, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Camilla published in 1872 which is a book about a female vampire seducing a susceptible young woman. As their English teacher says, ‘every vampire story contains sex, blood and death’ and The Moth Diaries, although not an 18 rated horror by any means, doesn‘t shy away from any of the three taking in themes of obsession, friendship, betrayal and coming of age all at the same time.
The performances are all excellent especially Sarah Bolger as Rebecca who centers the entire piece acting as our guide through both the strange world of all girls boarding schools and gothic horror and journeying through both very convincingly.
Lilly Cole is far better than she has ever been as Ernessa with her acting matching the ethereal otherworldliness of her appearance perfectly. Soft and hard, menacing and enticing she treads a fine line between friend and foe to Rebecca making the movie all the more compelling even if its running time is a little brief.
Well scripted, the film is also well shot by director Mary Harron, the woman who also brought American Psycho from page to screen. She ensures that The Moth Diaries is a stylistically varied movie which veers between naturalistic realism, lurid horror nightmares and black and white flashbacks has some unsettling and nasty moments in it – all of which work well.
A teenage gothic tale aimed at youngsters but great for girls and boys of all ages, The Moth Diaries is the perfect antidote to Twilight and the like, bringing a true gothic bite back to vampires once again.