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Studio: IFC Films
Year: 2011
Cast: Lily Cole, Sarah Gadon, Sarah Bolger, Judy Parfitt, Scott Speedman
Director: Mary Harron
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Rating: R for (some bloody images, sexuality, drug use and language)
Run Time: 01h:22m:18s
Genre(s): horror

ďThis place has a lot of old nooks and crannies.Ē - Rebecca (Sarah Bolger)


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Director Mary Harron is best known for bringing the character of Patrick Bateman to life on the big screen, but we'll see if she can work similar magic with an ensemble of young, attractive, female actors here.

Movie Grade: C-

DVD Grade: A-

Filmmaker Mary Harron is still best known for helming one of the better films of the last 20 years, 2000ís American Psycho. Having only directed one feature film since the release of that cult classic (2005ís The Notorious Bettie Page), it wouldnít be a huge surprise to find Harron a bit on the rusty side behind the camera. Unfortunately, such rust is wholly evident in her latest movie, 2011ís The Moth Diaries, based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Rachel Klein, a similar tome to the Twilight novels, which it predated. Having not read the novel, I canít speak to what made it into Harronís film and what didnít but its strange editing, short running time, and numerous plot holes make it feel like large chunks might have hit the cutting room floor. IFCís Blu-ray disc is good stuff, though, with a stellar video presentation, solid audio, and extras with more plot development than the actual film.

Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) has returned for another year at her all-girl boarding school, and is sharing a room, again, with her friend, Lucie (Sarah Gadon). All of Rebeccaís friends have returned, it seems, but things donít seem as friendly with the schoolís newest student, Ernessa (Lily Cole). Despite her loner attitude and overall strange vibe, everyone seems to take a liking to Ernessa, except Rebecca, who suspects the worse from this outcast. As her friends and members of the schoolís staff begin to die, rather unconventionally, it becomes increasingly evident that Ernessa might not be what she seems.

This is easily one of the longest 80-minute movies Iíve ever seen, and thatís certainly not a compliment at all. Usually, such films are brisk, and at least somewhat interesting, but here, things are questionably edited, multiple sequences are overly long and pointless, and the film, as a whole, is just plain boring. Plus, itís very strange how the vampiric elements that should be explicitly in play here, are almost totally ignored. I didnít even realize that this was intended to be a ďvampire movieĒ until I was watching one of the discís extras. I could be wrong, but I believe the word ďvampireĒ is used once in the film, and thatís in reference to a book being read in class. In the accompanying behind the scenes piece, itís mentioned numerous times. Perhaps this huge aspect of the tale was originally going to be a much bigger part of the film than it is, and, if so, this major omission is the root of director Harronís problem.

To say that young Lily Cole is mesmerizing is a huge understatement. She, quite simply, is one of the most unique- looking actresses in modern film, with the ability to look drop-dead gorgeous in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and, at times, terrifying here, in The Moth Diaries. As with the rest of the cast (Sarah Bolder, excluded), Cole is never allowed to spread her wings, so to speak, as everything (aside from an incredibly bloody sequence near the end) horrific happens off-screen. Such a lack of blood and guts is usually reserved for PG-13 films, and even the larger-budgeted of those push the limits of the MPAA. Thereís no excuse here, as Harron has an R rating to work with, but still seemingly no urge to show anything that usually draws this genreís target audience to such a flick.

IFC has done a nice job with this Blu-ray release, as it sports an outstanding 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image. Crystal clear images abound, but the real joy is in the cold, dreary color palette thatís well-rendered throughout. The audio is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that isnít as impressive as the video, but does sport some nice directional effects and consistently clear dialogue. The extras include an 18-minute behind the scenes piece, complete with cast and crew interviews, as well as on-set footage. Thereís also nearly 13 minutes of ďVideo DiariesĒ with candid, hand-held camera-shot on-set footage that the cast compiled for this piece. Rounding things out is a 2- minute Featurette and the trailer for The Moth Diaries.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - August 26, 2012, 5:31 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: haunted, diary, school

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