Some films, whether they’re good or bad, have a strange magic about them. They operate as a kind of fascinatingly damaged fable, made all the more intriguing by their mix of clichéd and inspired moments. As you watch it, you’re thinking this is the most poorly constructed scene I’ve ever… and before the thought is finished, a truly unique visual graces the screen creating the most wonderfully absurd juxtaposition between drudging mediocrity and supreme artistry. This is the mysterious dynamic of Mary Harron’s The Moth Diaries.
…the most wonderfully absurd juxtaposition between drudging mediocrity and supreme artistry. This is the mysterious dynamic of Mary Harron’s The Moth Diaries.
It’s first and foremost a classic horror film, which is made blatantly obvious in scenes involving the all girls class learning about gothic horror. Much like Scream, parallels are drawn between the story the students are reading and the story you’re watching. Common thematic elements like a stranger appearing from nowhere with a dark secret, a main character with a sorrowful background, struggles with forbidden desires, the past returning to haunt the present, all build to create a peculiar sense of dread.
Much like an Argento film, the strength of the movie is in its style and atmosphere, where it falls flat is its story mechanics and clunky writing. The film focuses on Rebecca returning to an all girls school and her group of tight nit friends who all seem to share a less-than-subtle lesbian fascination with each other. A mysterious outsider, Ernessa, arrives and does more than just stir the pot, she flips the pot upside down and dances in its spilled soupy contents. More and more of Rebecca’s friends go missing until she’s forced to face Ernessa and the truth she’s been running away from.
All the performances are fairly solid, especially considering the unnaturalistic dialogue they had to work with. By far, the most memorable face in the film award goes to Lily Cole for her distinctly unique features. Her performance as Ernessa is mesmerizing. She need only stand in front of the camera accompanied by some poetically ominous music and your work is done. This is meant to be a compliment.
Violence is used sparingly and is implemented not necessarily to repulse or “gross out”, as it often is in horror films; it has a more natural relationship with the story.
There are certain striking visuals in the film that your mind continues to return to, in particular one involving blood raining from the sky. It’s a beautifully macabre image that both shocks and delights. Violence is used sparingly and is implemented not necessarily to repulse or “gross out”, as it often is in horror films; it has a more natural relationship with the story. This isn’t a scary story with blood thrown in as a cheap gag, this is a story about blood, honest and unflinching.
The uneven rhythms of the film, the strange variance in quality, the contrast between some laughable cheese dialogue and droplets of ruby blood from above, could all help to make The Moth Diaries something of a celebrated anomaly. However, these elements also run the risk of making it a write off. It’s a very thin rope the film finds itself balancing on and whether or not it can make the treacherous journey from point A to point B is a mystery only time will tell.
[notification type=”star”]50/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. It’s a very thin rope the film finds itself balancing on and whether or not it can make the treacherous journey from point A to point B is a mystery only time will tell.[/notification]