Film

Movie Ramblings: The Moth Diaries

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This one has become a bit long and rambly, so here’s the tl;dr version with some mild spoilers full version further down.

A transfer student is some kind of moth based vampire.  She kills a bunch of people FNAR.  She is obsessed with another girl at the school with no explanation why except that they look a bit similar (apparently, I don’t see it myself).  Moth vampire kills best friend of her obsession and then gets killed by the object of her obsession.  This could have been an interesting take on the very well worn vampire story but never really gets going and ends on a whimper.

It is difficult to be original in the genre of vampire horror movies but I haven’t heard of any other film featuring a moth based vampire.  That’s not to say that there isn’t such a thing lurking outside my sphere of awareness. This film is obviously relying on the moths as its claim to novelty as the rest is really just a loose collection of stereotypes. In the vampire genre there are a lot of these to choose from and being also set in an all-girl boarding school gives us access to a whole slew more.

What is it about vampires that makes them so often linked with women and lesbianism? I’m not very familiar with vampire lore but I’m not really aware of any reason for so many films to feature lesbians and vampires except that sex sells, especially movies and especially “taboo” sex. Vampyros LesbosJesus Christ Vampire HunterLesbian Vampire Killers spring immediately to my mind and there are hundreds more.

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Vamp on left, Obsession on right, Unfortunate Best Friend caught in between

Anyway, stereotype number one here is that the main character has unrequited feelings a fellow student.  This stereotype fits into both the all-girl school genre and the vampire genre.  This part of the plot is very subtly done in places, sometimes so subtly that you almost think you imagined it but then something gratuitous will happen like she’ll walk into the bathroom while her crush is bathing and lean on the side of the bath staring longingly into her eyes.

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As far as I am aware this is not normal behaviour among teenage girls no matter how friendly you are

Interestingly, for all the latent sexuality they haven’t gone for the other main cliché of movies featuring female vampires which is extreme amounts of nudity and sex. There is hardly any nudity in this film but there are some revealing outfits which are definitely not justified by the plot and which (as pointed out by my girlfriend) occasionally appear out of nowhere in terms of definitely not being the same clothes the character was wearing in the previous shot. There is a bit of sex but this fits in more with the coming of age drama. Like all the other components of this film it doesn’t really serve any purpose and just feels like it is there out of obligation rather than any higher purpose.

Lily Cole seems to have been chosen for this role because she doesn’t mind getting naked on camera and has a couple of nude/revealing scenes. Apart from being British and not objecting to showing her boobs, she doesn’t really bring anything else to this role. But then the role isn’t exactly demanding of her acting talents, merely requiring her to stand around looking gaunt and ethereal and occasionally whisper something cryptic in an olde fashioned accent.

Other vampire clichés include obsession with a particular person to the extent of isolating her by killing off or driving away all of her existing friends. Sleeping in a box of dirt, presumably from their home country. Being able to fly and potentially being able to transform into a winged creature (in this case moths). Going out for midnight walks and disappearing when people try to follow you. Prancing about in a shower of blood. I’m actually a big fan of this one and it also features in the recently reviewed Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl which is equally as bad as this film, some would say worse, but infinitely more enjoyable.

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On the high-school drama front there are the usual bunch of clichéd characters and plotlines.  There is a non-conformist girl who skateboards in the corridors and gets drugs for the girl’s parties. There is the transfer student who at first no one likes but who gradually becomes more popular than the popular people who don’t like her. We briefly explore the themes of exploring sexuality and rebellion, drugs and alcohol as mentioned above but they are all touched on briefly as if they are something that just has to be mentioned on the way to bigger things.

And that’s the key to my disappointment in this movie really.  So it is made up of a collection of stereotypes and clichés surrounding one potentially interesting idea.  So what? It is still possible to assemble an interesting and engaging story out of stereotypes and clichés. But the problem with this one is that it seems to be rushing along paying lip-service to the established tropes and worn stories so that it can get on with the interesting and exciting part. But then we get to the end of the film, the main character has worked out what the vampire is (mainly because the vampire told her) but we still have no real idea what she is up to or why or what the hell moths have to do with it.  Anyway somehow she has worked out that the vampire sleeps in the cellar and goes down there, finds the box she sleeps in, opens it up and sets her on fire.  That’s it standard vampire movie ending #003.

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Your vampire sleeps in the basement in a creepy old box full of dirt? How original, I’ve never seen that done before.

As another reviewer eloquently puts it, they worst thing about this film is that it is a boring schoolgirl lesbian vampire movie!

The film doesn’t end straight away but the girl gets taken by the police on suspicion of a number of things, leaving things open for an interesting twist ending maybe like Shrooms (the twist ending is the only good part of that movie) or The Usual Suspects or even The Craft or The Cottage but no, they have no evidence and they let her go.

The thing that bugs me about the moths is that it is the girl who is obsessed with moths as she used to catch them with her (recently dead) dad and kept a diary about it, hence the title. But why should this generate a moth-based vampire unless she imagined the whole thing as an excuse for killing off her friends and burning down the school. If this is what the film makers were getting at then maybe they are actually geniuses and I’m just a dullard.

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