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.