Eduardo Sánchez, along with Daniel Myrick stunned the world in 1999 with the unexpected success of The Blair Witch Project. Sánchez’s latest film, Lovely Molly, sees him returning somewhat to the “found footage” sub-genre he and Myrick popularized for modern audiences.
Molly and Tim (Gretchen Lodge and Johnny Lewis) are a newlywed couple who move into Molly’s childhood home for a new start, but at what cost? Upon her return to the familial abode, it doesn’t take long for Molly to become possessed by the ghosts of her past.
Molly’s husband is a long haul trucker, so she has plenty of time to marinate in the pain of the past in the place where it was inflicted. While Tim is away for the first time since their move, Molly begins seeing and hearing things: voices calling to her, a terrible and painful wailing, and doors opening and slamming shut. In an attempt to understand what is happening, Molly begins recording herself and her environment to gather proof of the “haunting” of the home. But is that really what’s going on?
Sánchez uses the found footage aspect of the film to build atmosphere and dole out small bits of potentially important information, but at times it causes the film to slow down a bit too much. In a character study of this type, where the story has no big plot to speak of, there is a chance of losing the audience in this meandering structure. Watching Molly possibly going insane or being possessed can be compelling and horrendous, but with the injection of the video Molly is shooting, it must be laid in judiciously and skillfully. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a gamble, and audience reaction and appreciation will inarguably vary.
With these criticisms aside, the film is engaging much of the time and Lodge’s performance as Molly is pretty stunning. She is all sweetness and light when the film starts, but when things get dark and nasty, you still feel for her. Her Molly is subtle and creepy and Lewis is a great counter to Lodge as the suffering husband who can’t do much to help his new wife. Alexandra Holden is also good as Molly’s sister Hannah, revealing a character caught in the throws of some serious denial regarding the sisters’ past.
An old stone house is the main location for the film, and for the most part, the Blu-ray from Image Entertainment shows it off to full effect and appears to be faithful to the intent of the creative team. It’s a fairly dark film, and is even murky and muted in the daytime. It’s a passable image, but nothing to show off your A/V setup. The audio however is quite impressive. The sound mix has a nice dynamic and the dialogue is always clean. The bonus feature on the disc begin with a commentary by Sanchez and his co-writer Jamie Nash and then there is a four part documentary about the making of the film that should have just been presented as a whole piece. It runs about a half hour and delves into the “real life” of the characters in the film, finishing with a segment with cast and crew discussing the project.
Lovely Molly is a thinking person’s horror film and I would recommend it if you enjoy visceral character studies. Think Polanski’s Repulsion meets Von Trier’s Antichrist and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. Packed with great performances, interesting ideas, and some nice atmosphere, Molly isn’t terribly lovely, but it is kinda cute.