The Moth Diaries
Directed by Mary Harron
Bereft of suspense, character development, or actual scary shit, American Psycho director Mary Harron's latest is unfortunately a middling J-horror outing. Eschewing the unreliable narration (and by extension, nearly all the ambiguity) of Rachel Klein's source novel, the film is ruled by a petty, dull paranoia. After her poet father commits suicide, 16-year-old Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) is sent to Brangwyn Hall, a haven for sylphen sapphic rich girls. But since everyone at Brangwyn's got their own sad story, easy access to some pot, and their own clique, life is good for Rebecca and her bestie Lucy (Sarah Gadon)- —until new girl Ernessa (Lily Cole, the most interesting face in film since Dietrich) shows up. Some weird stuff happens-—fetid smells, girls walking around gardens in bare feet in floor-length nightgowns, nosebleeds, exchanges of blank stares-—but never really goes beyond what a thousand other gothic horrors have done before before. There's little point revealing the secrets of Ernessa's past since it is obvious that from the moment she walks onscreen she has one; rest assured, it is suitably silly for the genre.
However, there are elements of verisimilitude amidst the gothic hollowness. The intensity and fragility of teenage girl friendships is agonizingly authentic, as is the feeling of being left behind as friends move on (in this case, die) throughout high school, and the nuanced damned-if-you-do, damned-if-don't implications of eating or not eating when surrounded by other teenage girls. Though I'm still waiting for Harron to return to the heights of I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho, The Moth Diaries transcends both films visually: expertly blocked, the action is rendered in dizzyingly perfect tones that beg to be watched, even if the story is negligible.
Opens April 20