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Very well made mysterious film about life at an upscale, private girls' school in the USA, and all of the strange and scary things that happen as the twisting story unfolds. Beautifully filmed in a Gothic style old school building which is set in glorious, verdant grounds and gardens. Hauntingly good and full of supernatural thrills and chills. Highly recommended for those who like this genre.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Not a very original plot but done in a way to keep it interesting. Teen girls will like it. I thought it was OK. I say B-.June 12 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
"It's like she's invading my mind, even when I'm alone I can't escape her." Rebecca (Bolger) is ready for her new school year to start. After the death of her father she is grateful to get back to her friends. She is surprised when a new girl, Ernessa (Cole) shows up. What starts off as a new girl trying to make friends turns into something much more dangerous and Rebecca becomes suspicious of her when her friends turn up missing, or dead. I will start by saying that this movie is overall not that bad. I also once again have to say that I'm pretty sure I am not the audience this movie was made for. This is a horror movie about an all girls high school. Being a 30 year old man I couldn't relate. The movie did have an overused idea, but pulled it off in a way that made it feel interesting. There are some pretty creepy parts in this and Lily Cole is perfect in this role but I had a hard time getting into it. If you like movies like "The Roommate" you will probably like this one as well. Overall, not a bad movie at all. I was entertained but if I was a teen girl I probably would have liked it more. I give it a B-
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A mixture of various horror plot themes and imagesFeb. 15 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The film tries to explore life and death through a mixture of horror plots and images. Some of these themes are metamorphosis, hence the moth theme (The idea of a butterfly or moth as the soul is found in traditional cultures of every continent) and ghost story - the soul touched by divine love, but which, by reason of the mistakes made, must undergo some tribulations before having access to happy immortality. Other horror theme works it draws upon are from Sheridan Le fanu's Carmilla (Ernessa selects exclusively female victims, though only becomes emotionally involved with a few. Ernessa has nocturnal habits, but is not confined to the darkness. She has unearthly beauty and able to change her form and to pass through solid walls and sleeps in a coffin), shades of Poe's William Wilson (theme of the double who haunts Rebecca and leads her to insanity and also represents her own insanity) and Henry James' Turn of the Screw (the reality of the ghost and the sanity of Rebecca). And like all three works the film has a framing introduction and subsequent first-person narrative to convince or even manipulate the viewer.
A lot goes on here in this film and is open to different interpretations lending an unsettling ambiguity to the story trying to be both a horror film and a psychological study. Is Ernessa really a vampire or is this all in the troubled mind of Rebecca? Why do Ernessa and Rebecca share so many similar traits - even the name Ernessa appears to be a pseudo anagram of Rebecca? [Why does Ernessa tempt Rebecca with thoughts of suicide? Why is the teacher Mr Davies, who admires Rebecca's late father (who committed suicide) and provides a provocative father substitute for the young girl, so interested in the sixteen-year-old Rebecca? Why is Rebecca afraid of sex - is it a fear of puberty, lesbianism, or something much more sinister?
All three actresses convey an ethereal beauty in particular Lily Cole with her imposing height and childlike face. The blu-ray image is crisp and detailed nicely reproducing the cinematography's mostly icy colour palette and sets which are suitably creepy and the blood-raining school library's Carrie-esque scene is especially vivid.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Moth DiariesJan. 31 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
When the new girl in school starts to come between Rebecca and her best friend, Lucy, she begins to suspect that there is something far more sinister behind their relationship. Rachel Klein's modern update on traditional Gothic storytelling is brought to life in Mary Harron's screen adaptation of THE MOTH DIARIES, from 2011. Rebecca and the other girls transpose their teenage anxieties like anorexia, depression, suicide, and sexuality on to their ghostly classmate as a means of dealing with their internal struggles. While Ernessa may not be seen physically drawing the blood from her victims, her presence at the school certainly saps the other girls of their strength and happiness, leading them in to despair. The lesbianic undertones that are present in the plot also draw strongly from the classic tale of Carmilla, which is frequently referenced throughout the girls' schoolwork. Harron takes a timely approach in developing the characters and mood of the picture, but unfortunately, her deliberate pacing begins to wear during the long periods of inaction and leaves the audience feeling deprived as the film draws to its anticlimactic ending. Still, we are left on a positive note, having grown with Rebecca as she overcomes her pain and loss to find a renewed strength in herself. THE MOTH DIARIES ultimately falls short of becoming a modern classic, but it does provide another unique and emotionally charged vampire tale in the same vein as LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
-Carl Manes I Like Horror Movies
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Supernatural Silliness And Sapphic Subtext Can't Salvage This Exercise In Tween AngstAug. 30 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Feminist filmmaker Mary Harron has made some bold and provocative choices in past films such as "I Shot Andy Warhol," "American Psycho" and "The Notorious Bettie Page." She is not afraid to push things to the edge of reason and watch them topple over with an in-your-face glee. So I'm shocked by the tepid and somewhat unfocused "The Moth Diaries." The film seems to be borne of some interesting ideas, but it never effectively builds in intensity. The picture is lovely, to be sure, with breathy performances, gauzy flashbacks and ethereal fantasy sequences--but does it amount to much? I didn't think so. Pretty, but empty. That's the first phrase that popped into my head as the credits started to roll. Taking a popular young adult novel by Rachel Klein, Harron's choices here appear content to ape the underdeveloped emotions inherent in the Twilight saga as opposed to creating something that felt distinct or unique.
Set in an all-girl boarding school, "The Moth Diaries" opens with an introduction to Rebecca (Sarah Bolger). A troubled girl rebuilding her life after a tragedy, she is really getting back into the swing of things with a close knit group of friends. A creepy new student (Lily Cole) starts to worm her way into the group and strange occurrences abound. Is Rebecca justifiably suspicious of the new girl? Or might it just be jealousy? After all, she is losing her best friend's devotion to this exotic new rival. With vampire allusions aplenty and some seemingly supernatural sightings, we're left to wonder what is real and what might be the imaginings of the increasingly distraught Rebecca. The solution, when it arrives, is neither particularly shocking or even interesting. As the entire film unfolds in one monotonous dimension, no suspense is ever really derived from the tale.
I think the fundamental issue is that lack of adequate character development. All of the girls (and even the staff) start to be affected, but I wasn't invested in any of them. As such, it became hard to care about their respective fates. It doesn't help that the picture has a sporadic (and deadly wooden) narration by Bolger or that a poorly handled subplot involving a male teacher (the likable Scott Speedman) halts the forward momentum of the narrative. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the film is the Sapphic subtext as the girls form unnaturally close bonds. As alluded to in the movie, gothic tales such as this always have sex, death, and blood. After proclaiming this, though, the movie shies away from this aspect and leaves it largely unexplored. Harron opted to stay in the tween angst realm in this adaptation and the movie lacks an edginess that might have upped the danger and excitement. I didn't hate "The Moth Diaries," if anything I'm apathetic about it. It might very well have made a great movie, but everything feels thoroughly undercooked. About 2 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 8/12.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Completely banal (spoilers)Feb. 2 2014
the angels have the phone box
- Published on Amazon.com
I watched this because it was directed by the woman who directed American Psycho, a movie which I enjoyed and thought was well done. I wasn't disappointed in terms of direction. That was good enough considering what she had to work with.
Rebecca, a teen girl at a boarding school has a wonderful group of friends, including a best friend, Lucy, from whom she is inseparable. She is haunted by the dark memory of her father's suicide. A mysterious new student arrives, Ernessa, who charms away or even kills all of Rebecca's friends, and uses her supernatural allure to enthrall Lucy, who begins to shun Rebecca and waste away before her eyes. Is Ernessa the vampiric ghost of a woman who committed suicide in 1907, when the school was a hotel?
Yes. That's it. After all the build up, what was obvious all along, is all there is. After all her friends are expelled or dead, and after her favorite teacher tries to seduce her, Rebecca concludes that she herself was Ernessa's intended victim all along, pressuring her to follow in her father's footsteps and kill herself. Enraged, Rebecca finds the old trunk in the basement where Ernessa sleeps and sets it on fire. As she is being driven to the police station for questioning with regards to arson and murder, Rebecca experiences a catharsis and concludes that by killing Ernessa, she had set them both free.
This movie was set up perfectly to be a psychological thriller about the heritability of mental illness, Rebecca's struggle to come to terms with the abandonment she feels after her father's death, and her own paranoia about losing everything. Even the loose ends could have been wrapped up by a little more ambiguity: The physical resemblance between Ernessa and Rebecca, or Rebecca's favorite, trusted teacher's attempt to seduce her, or the recurring theme of sexual awakenings. I'm imagining something that's part Single White Female, with a little bit of dissociative identity thrown in (i.e., Ernessa as a Tyler Durden figure), wrapped up in a trendy vampire metaphor that explores the dark side of co-dependent friendships.
But no. It's a predictable story of vampire torments victim, victim destroys vampire, and the ending is happy, completely disregarding all the loss left in the wake. One or two creepy things are seen, mostly images of blood and suicide. There are no good startle moments, no good suspense moments. Just the plot that drags its way to an unsatisfactory conclusion.
As I said before, the direction is good. Not great, but good (the rain of blood scene was really just stupid). The story, as I've been explaining, is terrible. The script is unoriginal and at times even painful in terms of cliched or unrealistic dialogue that no one would ever say. Sarah Bolger (Rebecca) performs decently for the most part, with only a couple cliched screams, bad crying faces, etc. The character is mostly one-dimensional, and I commend her for her nuanced performance despite that significant set-back. Her voice-over narration, however, is extremely amateur, reminiscent of a non-actor high schooler reading a part aloud for English class. Sarah Goron (Lucy) is abysmal. She's completely flat, so that there's no difference between normal Lucy, enthralled Lucy, and deathly ill Lucy. For the latter, she does talk more slowly and quietly, but it's really the makeup that does the trick to demonstrate the extent of her weakness, not her acting. Lily Cole (Ernessa), does a mostly satisfactory job given what she has to work with. The only thing I've seen her in other than this is a mediocre Doctor Who episode, where she plays a mysterious siren kidnapping the passengers on a pirate ship, and turns out to be an alien medical computer program who takes life-forms in to heal them. She acts seductively when luring people away, and vicious when people try to interrupt her work. She has no dialogue, only singing and snarling. My point in this digression is that she plays both roles exactly the same way: Partly because of the script in The Moth Diaries and partly, I think, because of her own acting capabilities, the two characters could be interchangeable without changing either the episode or the movie in any meaningful way.
So, it fails as a psychological thriller and it fails as a decent supernatural suspense movie. If it can't be either of those, then any redeeming qualities (directing, Bolger's acting) don't matter very much.
I give it two stars instead of one because I did make it through the whole thing, and it had enough of a veneer that I didn't cringe at every little exchange or plot element. I wish I'd chosen something else to watch last night, but it's not the end of the world that I did.