JDIFF 2013 Review – The Moth Diaries

Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) becomes highly suspicious of the new girl at her school Ernessa (Lily Cole). All around her, girls fall ill and Rebecca soon comes to believe that Ernessa is to blame.

The Moth Diaries is based on a novel by Rachel Klein and, while the book predates Twilight and the sudden surge teenage vampire novels, the film sadly comes staggering into view in the wake of Stephanie Meyer’s juggernaut.

Sarah Bolger still has a glittering career ahead of her, so her decision to star in The Moth Diaries is nigh on unfathomable. Bolger does the best with what she is given, but some dodgy direction means that Rebecca comes off as a hysterical teenage girl, jealous of her friend’s attachment to someone new. Since The Moth Diaries was made, Sarah Gadon has formed a rather successful working relationship with David Cronenberg and his son Brandon, so maybe this film was a stop off for the actress on her way to better things.

Lily Cole just needs to stop it now. The model turned actress appeared in Confession of a Child of the Century – which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last year – but it was hard to take much notice of her performance when she was overshadowed by the truly terrible Pete Doherty. Here though, Cole takes almost centre stage and, once you get past her terrible eyebrows, there is nothing going on here. She is as wooden as the scenery around her, and the charisma that the character supposedly has is entirely absent.

Scott Speedman falls foul of a character whose sole purpose seems to be to batter the audience with the fact that the story parallels Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire story Carmilla, and to have an awkward, inappropriate and chemistry free relationship with Rebecca.

Director Mary Harron is arguably best known for writing the screenplay of American Psycho, but whatever magic spark she had 15 years ago, it seems to have well and truly vanished. The Moth Diaries tries to be mysterious, but ends up dull. The moths are never explained and the film attempts to make it look as though Rebecca is suffering from grief craziness at the death of her father, but repeatedly smacks the audience around the head with the idea so any subtlety is quickly lost. The girls are horrifically directed, meaning their emotions swing from normal to crazy and back again within seconds and the ending… Dear lord the ending. Let’s just say that it is rushed, ill conceived and does nothing to confirm or deny the suspicions the film has raised.

In all, The Moth Diaries is badly written, terribly directed and simply badly thought out. The only joy from the resolution of the story comes from the fact that it is finally over.

Rating: 0.5/5

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