M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Last month, counted down my favorite horror films from my first year of reviewing. Now it’s on to Year Two which began officially on October 1, 2011 and went through September 30, 2012. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2011 and September 30, 2012 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 20, 2012 and available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!

THE MOTH DIARIES (2011)

Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Rachel Klein & Mary Harron
Starring Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon, Lily Cole, Judy Parfitt, Melissa Farman, Laurence Hamelin, Gia Sandhu, Valerie Tian, & Scott Speedman
Find out more about this film here!

Mary Harron offers up another sublime horror film with THE MOTH DIARIES, which like her previous film AMERICAN PSYCHO takes its time to play out dreadful mood and heavy ambiance before sinking its teeth in the jugular of the viewer. Though much less based in our reality and less heavy on the social commentary on the culture of a specific era, Harron’s gothic teen girl romance is a thinking teenage horror film—the kind of horror you would wish kids were into rather than vapid vamp flicks like TWILIGHT where emotions and feelings are fathoms more complex than choosing between the brooding vamp and the shirtless wolf.

The film is filled with fresh young faces, specifically best friends Rebecca (played by EMELIE’s Sarah Bolger) and Lucy (Sarah Gadon) and new girl in school Ernessa (played by the ethereal Lily Cole). As their year in boarding school begins, Rebecca is delighted to see her best friend again after the long summer break and the two seem to be besties again without a pause until Ernessa arrives at the school. Immediately Ernessa takes interest in Lucy, which concerns Rebecca. I understand in this explanation, one might think this is more of a soap opera than horror film, but I assure you, things get creepy pretty quick.

Harron’s story, adapted from a book by Rachel Klein deals with the real connection young girls have with one another as they reach womanhood in a sophisticated way. Yes, there are themes of lesbianism throughout as Rebecca’s suspicions about Ernessa’s motivations are written off as jealousy at first, but as faculty and students start having unfortunate accidents and Lucy becomes less and less interested in being friends with Rebecca, Rebecca begins to believe that something much darker than teen jealousy is afoot. The story is dark in tone and deathly serious. As we see the film through Rebecca’s eyes, we see Ernessa walk through walls and lustily nibbling at Lucy’s throat in the midnight hours. Harron is not very subtle with the fact that Ernessa may very well be a vampire early on as in all horror films set in a classroom, the readings that dreamboat literature teacher Scott Speedman is teaching from in class are CARMILLA and DRACULA. As with most horror films, this school sequence proves to be a cautionary lesson and though the metaphor lacks subtlety by blatantly stating it in class, the vampire tale here is definitely an ambiguous one here as Ernessa doesn’t resemble what one typically thinks of when we think of a bloodsucker.

That said, the performances are absolutely fantastic by the three lead girls. Bolger shows great range and maturity for her age as Rebecca; our eyes and ears of the story. But Cole is the standout though here as her porcelain doll face is otherworldly and lifeless throughout the entire film, looking more inhuman as the story progresses. Though her look is distinct, it most definitely can be called beautiful in an absolutely horrifying manner. Both girls are asked to do and feel a lot in this film and are able to deliver.

Though more hardcore horrorphiles will not really be into this film, which is more along the lines of THE LADY IN WHITE and also has the same sort of dark tone as Sofia Coppola’s THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, it definitely is a welcome change of pace from torture porn, found footage, monster mayhem, and slasher flicks. Like a razor so sharp that you don’t know it has cut you until it is too late, THE MOTH DIARIES is dangerous in its delicacy; a modern Gothic tale that is hauntingly beautiful.


THE 2011-2012 COUNTDOWN!


#31 – THE MOTH DIARIES


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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