An Eerie Tale set against the backdrop of a creepy boarding school – I’m in!
Rebecca returns to her all girls boarding school at the start of a new term and attempts to leave the tragedy of her father’s suicide behind her. She’s delighted to be reunited with her friends, especially Lucy, and is pleasantly surprised to find the school has acquired a handsome new teacher, Mr. Davies (Scott Speedman). All is going well until the new girl arrives. Ernessa is pale and strange, and she steals Lucy from Rebecca, at least that is how Rebecca sees it.
The Moth Diaries is an Irish/Canadian production. It stars Irish actress, Sarah Bolger. You may recognise her from The Tudors or as Princess Aurora in Once Upon A Time. British model and actress, Lily Cole, plays Ernessa, the strange new girl.
The teacher is discussing gothic fiction and vampires in literature; he points out the three components present in every vampire story: sex, blood and death. They’re reading Carmilla, and Rebecca soon becomes convinced Ernessa is one of the undead. Is there something supernatural afoot, or is Rebecca simply going mad?
The creepy boarding school is an appropriately spooky setting. The students wear uniforms and for some weird reason wear Victorian style white nightdresses to bed. While the plot may be slow and a little mundane, all the tropes of a good gothic tale are there: the old building with hidden nooks and crannies, the young girl writing in her diary and reading by a window while a full moon hangs outside, and the isolated setting.
Rebecca is in love with her roommate or at least has confused feelings. Lucy in turn seems to fall for Ernessa. Are Lucy and Ernessa sleeping together, or is Ernessa feeding on her, or is Rebecca hallucinating? (I kept thinking of Black Swan when watching this – I never did decide if Rebecca was just imagining things).
I just wish this film had been a little more special. It’s worth watching alone for the setting, creepy vibe and gorgeous imagery. Clouds passing in front of the huge moon, the gloomy setting and the isolation of boarding school life are all very gothic. There is a languid tone to this film. It had the potential to be a great indie drama, but it never reaches those heights. It’s quite slow moving in parts. I was disappointed the teacher didn’t get more screen time and the hints of an illicit relationship between him and Rebecca were never realised. Yes, I like to watch scandalous things!
I loved the cinematography so much, I’m going to check out the book now. Maybe that will bring the characters more to life than the film does. The Moth Diaries may be dull in parts, but it’s a visual treat. ***
Are you intrigued, or does it all sound a bit blah? Have you heard of this film or the book it’s based on?