Some films are exactly like other films, yet remain enjoyable. Hell, I’ve just described thousands of horror films. Lovely Molly has the typical fare you’d expect. Someone filming scary events with their digital cam, when they should just run away like a sensible human being! Creepy singing voices. Doors inexplicably opening. However, it also has an ex-junkie stabbing a dead deer. So, that’s original.
Where writers Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash, and director Eduardo Sanchez succeed, is in their ambiguity. Their refusal to dumb down the plot, and explain through countless exposition scenes exactly what Molly’s back story is, or even what officially happens. Much like in The Blair Witch Project, we are left with a wonderful vagueness. Not quite as vague as Yellow Brick Road (review to come as soon as I rewatch and scratch my head for another hour afterward) but still, a delightful mystery is left in the wake of tragedy, and either madness, or possession.
Alexandra Holden as Hannah, Molly’s sister, is great. Lodge as Molly, and Holden as Hannah are believable sisters, with troubled pasts. The chemistry is there. Johnny Lewis’ performance as Tim, Molly’s husband is good, just not as good as Lodge or Holden. Though, his character is only in the film sporadically, as he is a truck driver gone for days at a time, so perhaps its not fair to say he didn’t do as good a job. He is supposed to be the straight character, even more so than Hannah, and he plays this role well. You believe his inner turmoil due to the slow unraveling sanity of his wife, and his anger at her falling back into using drugs. Likewise, he doesn’t have the full story as to why Molly is so tormented in the first place. Hence, his seemingly abrupt decision to call the cops on his own wife after she attacks him is understandable. Hannah, Molly’s sister, has more insight into her sister’s struggle, and is more hesitant to judge.
Ultimately, the full weight of the acting falls on Gretchen Lodge, and while her ferocity is a thing to behold, it’s the subtle cracks which form within her which prove the most unsettling. She elevates the film one step above most of the myriad of current possession and found footage films.
Speaking of found footage, and The Blair Witch, this film is directed by one of the two man directing team of that seminal flick. I mean seminal in the influential way, not in the mastabatory fodder way, although maybe for Oren Peli it is. So, I guess saying its derivative with all the characters using cameras is weird, as he’s basically one of the main reasons that cinema verite, documentary style horror film is so huge today. Technically it’s not a fond footage film, as there are some good old fashioned non-shaky cam shots in this mother. None of the shots are incredibly innovative, but they are more than adequate. If there is one area where Molly fails, its simply that we’ve seen this film before, just not with the same mystery behind it.
If you feel like a dramatic horror film, with lots of horses, and eerie scenes of children being filmed through windows, check out Lovely Molly.