The Moth Diaries
By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Angst-ridden teen horror movie has suicide themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The Moth Diaries begins with a tough and confusing problem, and the way to deal with it isn't clear. Help is requested but not received, and the problem is solved with violence. Suicide is a major theme as well. The main character thinks about it and must decide whether or not to do it.
Positive Role Models
The main character mostly breaks down when faced with something troubling or challenging. Her strength seems to come through moments of pain, and her only moment of triumph manifests itself in destructive violence (for which she pays a penalty).
Violence & Scariness
Two flashbacks to suicide victims, with lots of blood. A razor blade is the implement used, and viewers see it again and again. In a dream sequence, a girl slices her wrist, and it "rains" blood all over a library. The main character gets a terrible bloody nose. Several dead bodies. Threats ("I'd like to kill her"). A sex scene includes screams of pain.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One quick sex scene in a dream sequence. A boy is shown on top, thrusting. The girl is shown first moaning and then screaming in pain. One naked breast is shown. Another partial breast is shown during a suicide sequence. A teacher kisses a female student and begins unbuttoning her top. Two women are shown naked in bed together, though nothing sensitive is seen (the scene is meant to imply vampire-like violence as well as pleasure). Persistent sex talk throughout, including discussions about women's "cycles.
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Language is very infrequent but includes one use of "f--k." The rest is mostly sex-related talk/insults: "whore," "virgin," "dyke," etc.
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Products & Purchases
A single mention of Facebook.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are shown smoking pot in two scenes. Some of them react badly; one girl collapses on a bed, feeling sick, and another goes crazy and throws a chair out a window.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Moth Diaries is a horror movie set at a girls' boarding school. Some of the events contain vampire-like elements, but the movie's main theme seems to be about suicide. It's clearly intended to follow in the footsteps of the popular Twilight movies and their mix of horror and teen angst, but there's much more gore -- and sex -- here. Viewers see several dead bodies -- including suicide victims -- and lots of blood. Sex scenes include partial nudity and two women in bed together; there's also strong innuendo and sex talk throughout. Language is quite infrequent but includes one "f--k," and there are scenes of teens smoking pot, with consequences.
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The Moth Diaries
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What's the Story?
Recovering from her father's suicide, Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) attends an all-girls boarding school. She looks forward to seeing her best friend, Lucie (Sarah Gadon), again. But as they prepare for the best year ever, a new girl, the creepy Ernessa (Lily Cole), turns up and begins stealing Lucie away from Rebecca. Rebecca notices that Lucie has stopped eating and looks rather weak and sick, but no one listens to her. Not even handsome poetry teacher Mr. Davies (Scott Speedman) can help. Worse, Rebecca begins seeing creepy things, visions and other weird events, involving Ernessa -- including a bloody rainstorm and a glimpse of Ernessa passing straight through a glass window. Can Rebecca get to the bottom of these mysterious events?
Is It Any Good?
Coming from the intense, button-pushing director Mary Harron -- of American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page -- THE MOTH DIARIES is a disappointment. Ostensibly made as an angst-filled teen horror movie in the vein of Twilight, it doesn't really have an idea of its own identity. For example, the boarding school is supposed to be on the site of an old hotel, but this isn't really used in any interesting physical way.
Despite an interesting, hushed atmosphere, scenes start arbitrarily in various locations throughout the school, with no real sense of place or time. As a result, the characters seem lost. Likewise, The Moth Diaries fails to balance its vague vampire themes and more overt themes of suicide. However the movie makes good use of Cole (also in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), an actress with a truly unique look who, like Elsa Lanchester or Barbara Steele, seems destined for a great career in genre films.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the movie presents suicide. Is it realistic? Does it romanticize it at all? What makes some people think that it's their only option? What impact does their decision have on their friends and family? Where can kids in despair turn for assistance?
In the story, one of the teen girls has sex with a boy for the first time. How is it presented? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Is this movie scary? What are the scariest parts, and why do they or don't they work?
- In theaters: April 20, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2012
- Cast: Lily Cole, Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon, Scott Speedman
- Director: Mary Harron
- Inclusion Information: Queer actors
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some bloody images, sexuality, drug use and language
- Last updated: May 21, 2023
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