The Moth Diaries
Suspense-less boarding school vampire thriller starring Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon and Lily Cole
Arriving a week before Neil Jordan’s vampire tale Byzantium, you have to wonder if those releasing The Moth Diaries were hoping to steal a march on Jordan’s film. They needn’t have bothered. A pale shadow of Byzantium, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the Twilight series (even the bad ones) – although the big surprise here is that this tale, set in an elite girl’s boarding school and based on Rachel Klein’s 2002 novel, is directed by Mary Harron, whose past credits include such indie touchstones as I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho.
The plot focuses on Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), who has been transferred to the school by her mother in the hope that she can overcome the emotional trauma of her poet-father’s suicide. Aided by friend Lucy (Sarah Gadon), she seems on the road to recovery when the arrival of a new girl, Ernessa (Lily Cole) begins to unsettle her. Freak accidents occur. A teacher is murdered in the woods. And Rebecca begins to believe that that ethereal Ernessa is a vampire.
The problem is, between give-away flashbacks and Cole’s spectral presence, this seems so obvious, there’s no mystery, suspense or intrigue. Worst of all, there are no real scares – though that may be due to the Young Adult market it’s trying to tap into. It doesn’t help that the photography is dour (mistaking it for Goth chic) and the special effects look cheap – so much so you suspect the production ran out of money before it wrapped.
At least Harron has an eye for talent. The eerie Cole is indeed unsettling, while Gadon (best known for her work with David Cronenberg on A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis) and In America star Bolger conjure up a believable chemistry. It’s just a shame these bright young stars go utterly to waste.