Review: Lovely Molly / Cert: 15 / Director: Eduardo Sanchez / Screenplay: Eduardo Sanchez, Jamie Nash / Starring: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden / Release Date: Out Now
Life imitates art, it seems, as Eduardo Sanchez’s grim and unsettling Lovely Molly arrives on DVD in the wake of the death, in strange circumstances, of the film’s star Johnny Lewis. Obviously there’s no connection between the film and the actor’s death - Lewis was clearly a troubled soul - but his death casts a long and uncomfortable shadow over a movie which already has problems of its own.
It looks at first as if Sanchez is revisiting the ‘found footage’ storytelling style he pioneered so successfully in 1999 with The Blair Witch Project as Lovely Molly opens with shaky-cam images of the wedding celebrations for Tim (Lewis) and recovering junkie Molly (Lodge). The couple move into Molly’s childhood home but she finds herself left alone when Tim’s work takes him out of town for long stretches. Here, inevitably and predictably, Molly’s world starts to unravel as she becomes tormented by her own demons and, possibly, some very real ones as her behaviour becomes more and more erratic and delusional. Disturbed by inexplicable sounds all around the house - slamming doors, children crying, horses hooves - Molly starts to videotape her experiences and the film becomes a found footage/ haunted house drama hybrid. Despite her efforts to integrate back into society when she takes a cleaning job, Molly spends too much time alone in the house and her condition deteriorates to the point that her entire personality is subsumed by something not entirely benign - with dire consequences to those closest to her.
Lovely Molly doesn’t really try to do anything new; we’ve been in this particular haunted house a few too many times recently. But Sanchez has a few decent tricks up his sleeve - there are a few warped scares here and there - and Lodge brilliantly portrays the disintegrating Molly, not least in the scene where she attempts to seduce the visiting Pastor and when a moment of passion with Tim turns horribly bloody. There’s not much of a feel good factor here, this is an unremittingly grim story which, like many recent similar supernatural horror movies, may be a little too ambiguous and nihilistic for some tastes. But Sanchez knows how to ratchet up the tension and whilst Lovely Molly can’t help but feel a little derivative it remains a well-crafted, intelligent and edgy horror film which you’re more likely to appreciate than enjoy.
Extras: Featurettes, commentary, trailer.