The historical mythos of the vampire reveals certain constants among disparate cultures, such as the supernatural draining of a person's life force. The Moth Diaries features only one such undead parasite, leading to deaths at Brangwyn girls' boarding school. The dying is real, but what is the real reason behind the dying? In the mind of a troubled student named Rebecca (the protagonist), the newest student Ernessa is no mere mortal threat to her friends and social fabric.
The school also has a new teacher, Mr. Davies (Scott Speedman, who vampire film enthusiasts will recognize from the [[ASIN:B007FFUMKQ Underworld]] series), and in one amusing scene he discusses the history of vampires in literature (nearly breaking the fourth wall in the process), mentioning how they all contain sex, blood, and death... The Moth Diaries is no exception to this trio of themes.
** Disclaimer **
The Moth Diaries is a book that can be enjoyed by a wider audience than the movie, which seems as catering to two incongruous viewerships (horror fans and teen/tween girls), with the likely result that neither will be completely satisfied. The book, which thrives on ambiguity, begins with the protagonist as an adult introducing us to her diary written 30 years ago (she was institutionalized after writing it). Director / screenwriter Mary Harron decided to instead have the protagonist be a teen in contemporary times, which seems an unfortunate choice from a non-marketing standpoint. Despite this disappointment and struggling through some scenes only a girl could love, female vampire stories are my favorite in the genre, so my rating may be inflated for that fact.
✔ When Ernessa first appears onscreen, her face is striking enough that you intuit danger from the get go. British actress and model Lily Cole has an oddly small mouth, or perhaps it just appears so due to her Betty Boop round face with saucer eyes and prominent eyebrows (grandly threatening when they are dyed black, as here).
✔ Despite all her pouting and jealous posturing, you’d have to be heartless not to empathize with—or at least feel some degree of sympathy for—Rebecca (portrayed by Sarah Bolger, who is a boon to the flick regardless of the sloppy script). She has an adversarial relationship with razor blades due to the negative thinking she encounters (exasperated by remembering her father's suicide), and as the narrative progresses Rebecca finds herself with fewer and fewer allies, to the point where she is alone facing her madness (or Ernessa, if you believe vampires are real).
✔ In addition to the strong cast, notable director Mary Harron is at the helm. Despite my complaint above (in the Disclaimer), she gets so much right in terms of shooting.
✘ A departure from the book did not do the movie any favors. A missed opportunity.
✘ Forcefulness replaces subtlety in too many instances.
✘ I can't speak for horror fans, but I've read enough written by them to guess that most will not be pleased by this film; for one thing, it isn't particularly scary, and there's a noticeable absence of bloodsucking and gore.
💿 The Blu-ray transfer looks great, and is accompanied by an excellent audio track. The extras are better than nothing, and include:
🎥 Behind the Scenes (~18 minutes): in 1080p. Cast and crew, including bigwigs like the author of The Moth Diaries (I was glad to hear from her re: the film adaptation).
🎥 Video Diaries (~13 minutes): in standard definition. Focus on the cast, especially Sarah Bolger putting into context the locations, sets, and props.