Time to get us back on track here for our Halloween Fright Film Review Festival before we turn from pumpkins to jack-o-lanterns. This time out, how about some lesbian vampire schoolgirl antics with a peek at 2012’s “The Moth Diaries”? Hmmmm? Lots of virginal nubile young women and the always popular supernatural lesbian vampire threat from beyond the grave. Hey… it’s worked pretty well since “Carmilla”… so why not give this old idea one more try? 😉
Our synopsis goes like this: “As she begins a new semester, Rebecca is suspicious of the new girl at her boarding school, Ernessa. Darkly pretty and mysterious, she easily comes between Rebecca and her dearest friend Lucy straining their intimate friendship. But is Rebecca just jealous of Ernessa’s blossoming bond with Lucy, or does the new girl truly possess a dark and terrible secret desire to steal away not just Lucy’s heart, but her immortal soul as well?”
Vintage old private school… lots of precocious nubile girls on the cusp of womanhood… creepy goings on all surrounding the stereotypical mysterious beauty from old Europe… who may or may not be a blood drinking creature of the night. Yep. Sounds like oodles and oodles of horror movies this wee lady’s seen before. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but will “The Moth Diaries” do that old story something novel or new? Let’s all find out shall we?
So it’s pretty certain we’ll be on familiar ground with this one. We start out as our film’s heroine Rebecca (played by Sarah Bolger) arrives back at her private boarding school for the start of a new semester with her best friend Lucy (played by Sarah Gadon) and all of the other girls she’s befriended since the tragic suicide of her poet father landed her here some two years earlier. She’s happy to be reunited with them all and at first all seems happy and normal until the arrival of darkly mysterious English exchange student Ernessa Bloch (played by Lily Cole). Almost immediately Lucy is drawn by the new girl and her fascination grows, creating a rift between her and Rebecca who’s reaction to Ernessa is one of suspicion and distrust.
At first, this seems to be nothing more than petty jealousy at the growing loss of Lucy’s exclusive friendship, but as the story unfolds, more and more inexplicable things seem to convince Rebecca that something is very, very wrong with Ernessa… something dangerous and evil. Sounds like we’re getting ready for some serious spooky stuff, right?
Well… errrr… ummmm… not really as much as a certain lil’ Catgirl would have liked. Instead of giving us the standard undead hi-jinx you might expect, things at this point proceed in a fairly “non-horrible” sort of way. In fact… they kinda plod along like the plot of one of those soap opera style teen dramas on TV. You know the ones I mean… Girl has friends… new cool mysterious sexy girl transfers to school and right away disrupts the clique stealing away all the first girls friends and causing all sorts of drama and catty bitchiness to ensue. Ick!! I lived through far more than enough of that kind of stuff in High School myself… I certainly don’t need it invading my vampire movie!! But darn it… that seems to be the main idea here. Sigh…
Ok…Ok… so maybe the movie thought it would be “different” if it tried to be all “Psychological” and maybe make it seem like our heroine might just be tip-toeing on that ever so delicate edge between sanity and… well… not sanity. I mean… supposedly there’s the whole understated and pretty underdeveloped subplot that maybe Rebecca might have taken her father’s suicide to heart and now secretly toys with the idea of following his example. Except that the story never makes our heroine broody and dark enough for that kind of subplot to seem credible. Well… so what if maybe it’s a “Psycho-sexual” examination of Rebecca as she’s becoming aware of her growing desires and her latent lesbian attraction to Lucy? Again… not really all that good a fit, despite the addition of hunky English teacher, Mr Davies (played by Scott Speedman) to serve as a counterpoint to any of that stuff. She seems interested in him in that goofy infatuationary way schoolgirls in these movies always seem to be for sexy older teachers even though for me, that whole plot element seemed awfully creepy. Apparently he’s just in the movie to give them an excuse to introduce the “Carmilla” story to our heroine as a possible catalyst to her probable mental issues.
Mostly that’s the whole problem with this one. It’s just not certain what kind of movie it really wants to be. It’s a fairly tepid horror movie…. hardly any blood or gore (Except for a dream sequence in which Ernessa slits her wrist and becomes a proverbial fountain of blood in the school library…) or even any of the expected vampiric bits you’d think we’d get. No fangs… no bats… no girls with puncture wounds on their necks… just a lot of “wasting away” stuff and a couple of story notions that make Ernessa seem more like a ghost than a vampire. Like her one spooky scene where she’s able to walk through a solid glass window without opening it. Or maybe not… remember, this movie keep making you wonder if what we see isn’t all just some hallucinations in our possibly crazy heroine’s mind.
Well… is it one of those psychological dramas about adolescent alienation and social maladjustment? If so, it kinda really doesn’t succeed in that either. Grrrr…. well… at least it’s got all that risque titillating lesbian subtext going on to hold our story together, right? Ahhhh… wrong again. Although there’s one scene in which our groggy heroine awakens, covered in blood from what seems to be a really heavy menstruation only to look for help from her best friend and discovering her naked in her bed with Ernessa. It’s never made clear whether that was an illicit lesbian fling or a nocturnal vampire feeding attack…. who knows? Worse… it might even have been nothing more than a disjointed nightmare sequence jammed into the tale with no resolution or connection to anything else. Auuugghhh!!
Sigh…. through all this Rebecca slowly gets abandoned and separated from her supposedly close knit group of friends, one of which dies… accidentally in a fall… two of whom leave school for various reasons… and Lucy who basically dumps her closest companion to hang with Ernessa even as she sickens and dies from either vampirism or an eating disorder, take your pick. (Weird by the by, that the school would expel one of the girls for a single disciplinary incident, but not immediately have Lucy’s parents come to retrieve their gravely ill daughter at the first sign of her becoming sick… Nope. Not credible at all…)
In general, by about the last half of this one, I was pretty darn ready for them to wrap things up. It’s a shame too, because the film gets the visual elements just about right, and the casting choices were good as well, particularly Lily Cole as Ernessa. It all looks so right. Unfortunately it all sounds so wrong.
I’d tell you how it all wraps up, but that would ruin just about any chance you’d have if you still decide to give it a watch for yourself. Let just skip right to it then. For being a fairly “PG” rated film masquerading as an “R” rated one, with ill-defined story goals and fairly uninspired logic and no real conclusion I give “The Moth Diaries” a fairly well deserved 2 “Meows” out of 5. Should you want to see it, it fairly easy to find on most regional DVD formats, but I’d recommend you catch this on on cable TV where it probably belongs. Yep. That’s that.
Trailer? Hehehehe… would this wee Catgirl ever fail you? Never, my Gentle Visitors… 😉