Dir. Eduardo Sánchez, US, 2012, 90 mins
Cast: Alexandra Holden, Johnny Lewis, Ken Arnold, Gretchen Lodge
Review by Dan Collacott
Gretchen Lodge is Molly, a newlywed who moves back to her family home with her husband, following the death of her father. The young couple experience unexplained, disquieting household phenomena, as something eerie from her child hood returns. When Molly’s husband Tim (Johnny Lewis) leaves to work shifts as a truck driver, the incidents quickly intensify. He returns after several days, to find Molly sitting naked in a trance like state in her childhood bedroom.
The malevolent spirit begins to relentlessly stalk and torment Molly, even assaulting her at work. In an attempt to escape the evil taking over her life, she starts using heroin. An addiction she thought she had beaten. Her sister Hannah is the only person able to look out for her and provide her with some respite from the house. It is through their close relationship we began to learn about their father and the abuse they both suffered as children. Despite her best efforts, Hannah is unable to prevent Molly’s behavior from deteriorating further, as she begins carrying out their father’s murderous intentions.
The film begins with a vaguely Paranormal Activity ‘to camera’ feel and premise. The budget is kept minimal by the fact the evil in the house is merely an unseen presence. The spectre in question being indicated mainly by shaking doors, footsteps, singing and the rather annoyingly intense soundtrack that over emphasises its’ existence.
Molly uses her camcorder to prove that the thing haunting her is real, yet despite this, we still don’t ever see what Molly sees (and neither does her husband). What we do get to see is the footage Molly films in isolation, first around the house, then in the woods and finally as she follows a local woman and her child. It is not abundantly clear what the disturbing footage is meant to convey, as filming whilst demonically possessed doesn’t really make much sense.
The problem with Lovely Molly is the ideas and concepts feel quite muddled and incomplete. The family trauma and abuse threads are never really fleshed out and the equine obsession is never explained. Molly’s heroin abuse and overtly sexual behavior also feel jaded and predictable with the inevitable nudity, unnecessary.
Blair Witch director Eduardo Sánchez, opts for a cerebral and psychological form or horror, rather than lashings of gore and FX. As a result the scares are few and far between, because the threat posed to Molly is only experienced from her perspective. The sexual violence committed by the poltergeist in question, though an interesting idea, is bizarre rather than chilling to witness.
At times Lodge manages to carry the film with her fantastically gritty performance as the tormented Molly. But despite being undeniably odd and creepy, Lovely Molly is overly long and incoherent, leaving you with the impression something crucial was lost in the final edit.