The Moth Diaries Review (TIFF 2011)

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Here at Entertainment Maven my focus is to find and recommend the best entertainment out there. These films, books, games, etc. find themselves on the ‘Entertainment Maven Seal of Approval’ page. Everything that doesn’t make the cut is not necessarily a bad product. Plenty of enjoyable films that I have reviewed did not receive the seal of approval, mainly because they were not outstanding or had some issues holding them back. In these instances I take pride in discussing the positives and negatives of the film, and attempt to provide constructive criticism. Unfortunately, it would be an effort in futility to find something positive to say about Mary Harron’s The Moth Diaries.

Harron is known for a number of popular films, such as I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page. I’m a big fan of American Psycho and was anxious to see what Harron would do with a Vampire story in an all-girls boarding school. The story follows Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) as she returns to boarding school and the friends that she has met there over the past two years. The new semester gets off to a rocky start, as Lucie (Sarah Gadon), Rebecca’s best friend, begins to hang out with the creepy new girl, Ernessa (Lily Cole). Ernessa is tall, deathly pale, has dark hair, can read Latin and Greek, speaks perfect German, can’t swim, causes fresh flowers to die, and doesn’t appear to eat anything. SPOILER alert for people with a short term memory so brief that they cannot remember my last sentence; she’s a vampire.

The topic of vampires is broached in the most subtle of manners, as Rebecca’s English literature class discusses the topic daily. Lucie even plays the near identical role of Ms. Lucy Westenra, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Perhaps subtle wasn’t the right word to describe The Moth Diaries treatment of vampires. The remainder of film feels like a prank reality TV show, as the audience sits and ponders why they spent over twenty dollars on a slew of vampire cliches and one-dimensional characters that couldn’t even startle pre-teens with anxiety disorders.

This review may seem rather venomous, but I am insulted that The Moth Diaries pretends to have anything intelligent to say about tragedy, suicide, friendship and family. I would love to go back and time the interactions between the characters, most cannot have been more than 15-30 seconds. These cardboard cutouts just don’t have anything important to say to each other. Scene transitions are clumsy and ineffective. A span of 60 seconds will see night turn to day and then back to night in the most haphazard fashion. The film reaches the height of ridiculousness when Rebecca and her 30-plus year old English teacher romantically embrace. The surprise and frustration of the audience was palpable. Where were the precursors to this moment?

The TIFF programming I have experienced this year has been fabulous. It was inevitable that a film like The Moth Diaries would slip through the crack at some point. With some editing of the mature content (some nudity and scenes of violence), I’m sure that The Moth Diaries could be used by Child Psychologists to successfully rid toddlers of nightmares.

5 thoughts on “The Moth Diaries Review (TIFF 2011)

  1. Saw this movie yesterday. My first TIFF movie ever and I was hugely disappointed.

    Won the tickets from BlackBerry so I didn’t pay for it (VERY glad about that) but even I had paid for it I would still care more about the time wasted watching that crappy movie.

    It was SO BAD!

    I am just glad to see/hear that there wasn’t some artistic awesomeness embedded within the movie that I ‘didn’t get’ because I’m not ‘cultured’ enough. The movie SUCKED. TIFF should issue a public apology for it’s suckiness. It is beyond me how the film has a a user rating of 7.3/10 on IMDB right now.

    1. That’s a shame that you ended up with MD as your first TIFF experience. I was at about 10 films before MD, and each one was either great or at least had redeeming qualities.

      I’m sure the IMDB rating will go down when and if it reaches a wider audience.

  2. “Where were the precursors to this moment?”

    His reaction to when they were interrupted when talking about the book, then the second time in his car when he put his hand on hers.

    Movie was great, your review sucked. Hope I was able to match your style here. 😛

    1. Nimd4,

      I would like to thank you for taking the time to comment, as you can see I don’t get a ton of them. With regards to your opinion of my review, I’m sorry that you thought it sucked; I thought it was a fairly decent review myself.

      With regards to the movie being ‘great’. At the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival I witnessed no less than ten people walk out of this film. I myself must have glanced at my watch no less than ten times, wondering when the pain would end. The only thing that kept me in my seat was the fact that I would consider it unprofessional of me to write a review for a film which I did not see in its entirety.

      So since you thought this was great, here’s a recommendation for you. You should enjoy every movie that has ever been made since your tastes don’t seem to be discerning in the slightest. In fact, I wouldn’t even bother reading synopses or watching trailers anymore, anything should do the trick. Let’s take it one step further, just watch Moth Diaries over and over again for the rest of your life. The story will probably seem just as fresh and exhilarating to you as it did the first time since you don’t seem to be concerned with plot or suspense.

      The rest of us will continue to expect entertaining products from experienced directors, and if they fall short of the mark we won’t be afraid to call them out.

      Thanks for stopping by.


      1. Just caught the reply (lol), tnx. I wouldn’t have considered Mary Harron that eminent, for this film to be such a fall. Otherwise you’re right and I still can’t put my finger on what was it about the movie that made me think it’s good (filters, mood, idk), but I guess I remain pretty much alone in liking it :\

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