Thursday, November 15, 2012

A review of "The Moth Diaries"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Moth Diaries”
By: Brian Cotnoir & Lindsay Holcomb

Ernessa, Lucy, and Rebecca
the Main Characters of "The Moth Diaries"
I don’t even know where to begin to explain this film.  I don’t think I can do that accurately enough for a number of various reasons.  One reason being is that this film was based off a novel that was written from the perspective of a woman for an audience that is, presumed, to be mostly woman as well.  I am of a the Male sex, so already I feel that I have some sort of sexist bias lying somewhere in my subconscious as to why I don’t like this film, but I also feel that using that bias I’m already being unfair to the film because my interpretation is probably not the best suited to write a review on this film.  So I have decided to bring in a Female avid film watcher to try and help balance out my interpretations, and bring some new ideas and perspectives to the table.  The person I chose to bring in for the female perspective is my good friend Lindsay--who also wrote a review of the film “Repo Men” last year.  So if you are interested in reading Lindsay’s other review, I will post the link to her review at the bottom of this page.

From a Male Perspective (By: Brian Cotnoir)
     The film “The Moth Diaries” is based off of a novel by Rachael Klein, and it is told in diary form, from the Perspective of the film’s protagonist named Rebecca.  Rebecca is a 16-year-old girl who attends a prestigious Boarding School—that actually used to be a hotel—and her hopes to have a great school year with her best friend Lucy.  However, a new and mysterious girl to the school, named Ernessa, befriends Lucy and soon Rebecca’s best friend is spending more time with the new girl.  Rebecca begins to suspect that Ernessa may be a vampire and is trying to steal Lucy away from her, but are Rebecca’s outrageous suspicion’s true or is this just petty teenage jealousy?          
So this is what All Girls Schools are really like, right???
    When I first saw the words “teenage girls” and “boarding school” in the plot description, my mind immediately went to “Ooh, maybe there’ll be some hot girl-on-girl in this film”, and my expectations were narrowly achieved.  There is so much sexual tension early on in the film, such as Rebecca and Lucy having a conversation while Lucy is in the bath.  Not to mention the scenes that happen later in the film when Lucy begins to spend a lot of time with Ernessa. I’m not sure if this was a theme or a something that was a large part of the novel, but it was pretty distracting. The buildup of this sexual tension between Rebecca, Lucy, and Ernessa boarder’s on that of a 1970’s soft-core porn. 
    Our main character Rebecca, played by actress Sarah Bolger, is a very sensible character and therefore very likeable in my opinion.  Whenever Rebecca confronts someone with facts about her concerns about Ernessa’s peculiar and concerning behavior—whether it be a friend or a responsible adult—everyone just seems to right her off and tell her she’s overreacting.       
    For everything Rebecca has in common sense, she lacks in emotional strength.  Rebecca does cry an awful lot in the film, and while I agree that it’s not at all possible for her character to always be strong, I do feel the crying parts of way too overplayed in this film.  Also, I was not a fan of her on again-off again narration throughout the film.  I understand that it was a large part of how the story was told in the novel, but I don’t think it carried over very well to the film. 
It's Like She's not even Trying To be Subtle in the film.
Now the character Ernessa, played by actress Lily Cole, is just your typical movie antagonist.  She is bright, well-spoken, talks about morbid things, is pretty neurotic, and has a British accent (of sorts).  She’s like the illegitimate child of Hannibal Lecter, and there is just nothing surprising about her performance.  For instance, in “Silence of the Lambs” we know Hannibal Lecter is the bad guy right away just from the way he talks and his mannerisms, and it is established by the story that he is the bad guy.  In “the Moth Diaries” they should have made Ernessa more mysterious—for the audiences’ sake—but instead they wasted no time letting us know who the antagonist was they just put her on screen and here she is just “Hi there; I’m the villain.  I’m the one who’s going to make your life miserable”.  Which is bad because they really should have down-played Ernessa’s behavior and mannerisms in the beginning so that way the audience would have to wait and decide whether or not they thought Ernessa was a vampire or not. But instead they save us the thought process and just make her another obvious villain.     
Mr. Davis has Impure Intentions
    The adults in the film are all portrayed as ignorant and lacking commonsense.  The one male teacher in this film, Mr. Davis—played by Actor Scott Speedman—is just too damn weird.  He befriends Rebecca, and all he does is gush about what a brilliant writer her father was, and how tragic it was that he committed suicide. I don’t think it’s a great idea for a teacher to constantly be reminding a student that their father killed himself, and then gush over how sad it was and how much he liked him like some sort of weirdo fan boy.  And if that wasn’t s creepy enough, he also tries to hook-up with Rebecca in his office, after she goes there for some helpful advice.  I’m a licensed Teacher and I believe that one of the golden rules of Teaching is that at no point should you ever ATTEMPT TO BANG ONE OF YOUR STUDENTS!  Though, that’s more of a personal issue I have with this film.                                  

      Also, the school’s principal does nothing to really help anyone in the film.  Three dead bodies turn up on the campus in the semester and she play’s them off like they were terrible accidents.  If I had a daughter that went to this school, I would have pulled her out by now!  Three dead bodies turn up and you don’t call police to investigate—except for the one that was made to look like a suicide—you are a terrible educator, lady.        This film had a lot of potential to be great, but unfortunately it is just another film that was poorly adapted from a novel, and that is my perspective as a male who sat down and watched this film.  Don’t get me wrong this film isn’t horrible, but I just felt that it could have been so much better.

From a Female Perspective (By: Lindsay Holcomb)

This film is not a bad one. It was made in 2011 and is classified as a horror movie (in IMDB at least). It is set in an all girls school and surrounds a young woman who is in her junior year at the school (college I think, though it could also be a REALLY expensive private high school) and encounters a very strange new student who she believes is a vampire.
Friends, don't let friends get killed by vampires
It starts off as the main character, Rebecca, having a close knit group of friends who seem more interested in losing their virginity and the hot new teacher than anything else. Becca came to the school after her father killed himself and this has made her a bit clingy to her friends, especially her best friend Lucy (Dracula reference!!). This creates some tension when the new girl, Ernessa, becomes friends with Lucy. Lucy hangs out more with Ernessa than Becca, hurting Becca and making her feel alone. One by one, Becca’s friends leave. Either they leave her or leave the school, which is seemingly Ernessa’s doing. Becca suspects Ernessa of manipulating her friends and making her more lonesome. Soon she even suspects that Ernessa is not human and must be killed.
The ever manipulative Ernessa hides behind the mask of sanity
This seems like an accurate depiction of a vampire’s actions. Ernessa manipulates people and kills them off using ‘accidents’ to avoid suspicion. She sets her sights on Becca and uses her friends’ weaknesses to be rid of them, and move them away from Becca. It can be said that Ernessa even manipulated Becca into an obsession about her, by pushing away the rest of her friends in her attempt to be free of Ernessa. No one suspects Ernessa and believes; instead that Becca is losing it.
Another thing is that the film really gets into the sensual aspect of the vampire. Through most of the film it could look like Ernessa is courting Lucy and Becca, jealous of this new relationship, creates the vampire persona as a way to understand Lucy’s betrayal.
That could be accurate if Ernessa didn’t enter Becca’s dreams, never ate, wandered around at night, had a room full of moths, walked through a window, slept in a trunk, lived in the school a hundred years ago when it was hotel and freaking FLY’S!! Through all this, the word vampire is never really associated with Ernessa, no one calls her a vampire it is implied by Becca, but never said. The only times the word vampire is mentioned in the film is in a class, or when a book is being read.
I think Ernessa, just may be a Vampire.
Now, where the movie missed its mark: It is listed as horror but comes off as more of a suspense movie. I think that Ernessa could be more terrifying if you saw both sides of her, the killer and the lost lonely lover: one moment drinking blood from a hated teacher and the next flirting with Lucy. Perhaps that would cause one to lose the subtlety that this film uses, but something like that could push it further if used correctly. I have a strong opinion that the enemy you don’t see is scarier than the one you do (big fan of Paranormal Activity), but when it comes to vampires I think there should be a reveal, proving that she is a creature of the night, but only at the end, or correct moment. Let her victim see what she is and her sanity drained just enough so she is alone, with the vampire as her last option for companionship. This film gets half way there, but could push it a bit further, I think. Creepy, yes, horror, not so much.  So, this is an okay movie for vampire fans, but if you’re looking for a gore-fest, I’d try 30 Days of Night first.

P.S. There is a teacher, Mr. Davies, who I liked in the film until he turned into a horny creep!

For those who are interested in finding more of Lindsay’s writing click the link below and check out LINDSAY’S “REPO MEN” REVIEW

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