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Two days after its screening, this writer finally feels appropriately
equipped and of right mind to review and discuss Eduardo Sánchez ‘s LOVELY
MOLLY with you, FANGORIA followers. Needless
to say, the film deeply affected my psyche; following the lead character, Molly
(Gretchen Lodge) around for 99 minutes, in and out of her point-of-view, is no
easy task. LOVELY MOLLY will capture
your attention and have you completely immersed from start to finish, but be
warned: aligning yourself with Molly and her story will lead you into the deepest,
darkest depths of humanity (and hell).
Molly is an ex-drug addict who was sexually abused by her
father as a child (although this isn’t explicitly said; the film maintains an aura
of ambiguity throughout its entire plot line in several aspects of the story). She’s managed to salvage a life for herself,
however, happily marrying her sweetheart Tim (Johnny Lewis), with her sister,
Hannah (Alexandra Holden), by her side as the maid of honor. Molly and Hannah’s parents are both dead, and
the cost of living in the United States isn’t cheap, so Molly and Tim decide to
move back in to Molly’s childhood home. Hannah is completely against the idea,
knowing that Molly battled drugs and psychiatric issues after the death of
their father, but Tim is a truck driver and Molly works as a custodian at the
local mall, thus the newlyweds can’t afford to buy a new house. Besides, Molly seems healthy, happy, and
beautiful, just like any bride should be on her wedding day.
It’s not until Tim has to leave on business the day before
Molly’s birthday that all the troubles start. Molly’s painful childhood memories
and the isolation she feels in the house start to penetrate her psyche, but
there appears to be an evil and overwhelming presence that physically and
mentally breaks her down as well: demonic sounds in the house, the low murmured
humming of a man’s voice, and loud footprints on the stairs like horse hooves.
Is it the house that is haunted? Could it be the ghost of
Molly’s father? Is Molly shooting heroin again? Perhaps she is just overwhelmed
with her new marriage and the reality of sober life? These are questions that
are never really answered in LOVELY MOLLY, ultimately making the film more
painful to watch. You sympathize with Molly who is clearly desperate for help, yet
she commits such horrendous and atrocious acts that become increasingly difficult
to digest and understand.
The dark and frightful tone in LOVELY MOLLY is set almost
instantly, and the film conjures a sense of realism that many working class
families experience. Molly would like to
see a doctor, but can’t afford health care. Not a particularly religious couple,
Molly and Tim seek the advice of a religious pastor, but they don’t invite him
over to perform an exorcism. LOVELY
MOLLY is different from other possession films in the sense that we’re not ever
really sure if Molly is possessed and the film feels like real life, especially
with the use of Sánchez’s masterful hand-held, shaky-cam POV during moments of
Molly’s deepest distress.
A truly talented director (and editor), Eduardo Sánchez (who
also co-wrote the script with his frequent writing partner, Jamie Nash) is exceptional
at taking a simple concept and a small budget, and turning it into something
visceral, haunting, and meaningful (we’ve previously witnessed this with THE
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT). He’s also a master
of online marketing; creator of the BLAIR WITCH website that convinced
audiences that the film was a documentary, Sánchez is up to his old tricks by
using the LOVELY MOLLY website as a tool to create ongoing communication with
the film’s spectators (before and after
seeing the film, FANGORIA highly recommends that you visit its official site on a regular basis). Over the course of several weeks, more and
more information about the film and its storyline will be revealed through the
website, perhaps shedding light on some of the film’s spooky ambiguities.
Sánchez understands how to create true fear in regular,
everyday people. He shakes up the safety of the household, and makes the
comforts of marriage and family life anecdotal. The house where the film was shot is naturally menacing and also
seemingly otherworldly is the talented abilities of newcomer, Gretchen
Lodge. LOVELY MOLLY is her first film
role to date and she carries the film with such intensity, complexity, and splendor. The girl is truly talented (on par with the
2010 possession starlet, THE LAST EXORCISM’s Ashley Bell) and LOVELY MOLLY
would not have worked without her natural aptitude and skill. The film and Lodge’s performance definitely
warrant several viewings. LOVELY MOLLY
will confuse, trouble and terrify you, and your heart will ultimately break for
Molly and those who love her. And while that
may sound awful to you, isn’t that what we truly love about good horror films?
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