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October 3, 2012

Lovely Molly

by Franz Patrick

Lovely Molly (2011)
★★ / ★★★★

After Tim (Johnny Lewis) and Molly (Gretchen Lodge) got married, they moved into the house that Molly inherited from her parents. Three months of living in their new home was relatively normal until one night, as the husband and wife slept, the alarm went off. The cop called in to investigate found nothing suspicious which led him to conclude that the alarm was probably triggered by an unlocked door that suddenly opened. As a truck driver, Tim traveled quite often. After the alarm incident and Tim was called into work the next day, Molly began to experience bizarre happenings in the house, starting a with a ghostly whisper that kept her awake at night. Based on the screenplay by Eduardo Sánchez and Jamie Nash, the force that drove “Lovely Molly” forward was the title character’s history with hard drugs and recurring grief of her parents’ death. And while it did have several good ideas in exploring how the two were connected, there were only a few genuinely good scares which made me question how effective it was as a horror film. There was no doubt in my mind that the screenplay worked as a dark drama. I liked the relationship between the sisters, Molly and Hannah (Alexandra Holden), because they looked out for each other. When it was only the two of them in one room and a hint of potentially falling back into old habits was detected, there was an awkwardness of whether or not one should bring up a past that still felt somewhat fresh. Secondly, the marriage between Tim and Molly was refreshing. It was nice to see two young people shown realistically. Living in an area where it wasn’t the most exciting, they were shown to hold jobs that were not exactly glamorous. They had to work for their money and so when Molly started to look sickly and Tim suggested that she saw a doctor, Molly responding that they didn’t have health insurance had some dramatic power behind it. It wasn’t that she hated her life or resented Tim for not having extra cash. It was just the reality of their life together. As the bags under Molly’s eyes grew, the writing led us to believe that she was slowly losing her sanity. The tension in the material reached its apex when Molly was alone in the house at night and she turned on the video camera to record whatever it was that was haunting her. Although a ghost with a white sheet over it did not appear, the slow build-up of mood, accompanied by an increasingly unsettling score or sometimes an absence of it, to a sudden, for instance, violent rattling of a door made us believe that there really was a malevolent force in the house and yet it left enough lack of evidence for us to consider that perhaps it was all happening in Molly’s mind. This uncertainty dragged my interest like a rag doll but my emotional investment in the story wasn’t always returned with answers that felt right. I felt Molly spying on a neighboring family held little significance to the story other than to deliver something disturbing toward the end. There was not a sensible explanation as to why Molly, or whatever it was that she claimed controlled her body, felt compelled to stalk the woman and her children. The most unnecessary distraction in “Lovely Molly,” directed by Eduardo Sánchez, was its random acts of violence which, unfortunately, half of the time was mistaken for horror. This is a common pitfall because it is often an easy way out. Although I do not believe that the filmmakers didn’t want to try, the film might have been a better horror movie if more was left on the cutting room floor.


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