Movie Review: Lovely Molly / Cert: 15 / Director: Eduardo Sanchez / Screenplay: Eduardo Sanchez / Starring: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden, Ken Arnold / Release Date: June 22nd
The career trajectory of Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick is one of the more baffling things in modern cinema. Exploding on to the scene with The Blair Witch Project which launched the modern found footage genre and became one of the most profitable films of all time, they then stumbled around Hollywood for five years struggling to get projects off the ground. Eventually they both got work separately and are now slogging it out in direct to DVD land. Hearing the buzz about Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly and seeing the ‘Haxan Films presents’ credit at the start, it somehow felt like it was about time.
Lovely Molly is an upsetting film, maybe the most upsetting thing we've seen this year and it definitely left us feeling like we needed a hug come the ending. The problem is that tonally and narratively it’s kind of a mess.
The film starts in Sanchez’s old found footage playground as we witness the marriage of Molly (Gretchen Lodge) to truck driver Tim (Johnny Lewis). The video camera is temporarily put away as we witness the happy couple move into the house where Molly grew up with her sister. Things start to make noise in the night time, a burglar alarm is set off, a door is rapped on furiously and the genius sound design comes into play. As Tim is away, Molly is alone and she begins hearing voices and footsteps from some unseen malevolent entity. Molly begins acting strangely and grows more and more withdrawn as her claims are met with disbelief. Gradually we learn that Molly has a junkie past and this may well have something to do with her upbringing and the house where she now lives.
As a study of mental illness, Lovely Molly is absolutely brilliant. Its first act plays out like a white trash version of Black Swan with Sanchez employing the mid close up handheld technique that Darren Aronofsky used so effectively. Combine this with a fearless performance from Gretchen Lodge and the results are something special. The film stumbles however with its decision to imbue the story with supernatural overtones which seem out of place. It’s as if Sanchez wanted to make a strong film about the effects of child abuse but then couldn’t get it together unless it had some element of dark magic present in his previous films. As a result the film doesn’t fall either side of the fence and feels a little incomplete. The supernatural element is a mish mash of at least ten horror films from the last twenty years, even The Blair Witch Project gets a nod.
Lovely Molly is definitely a film that will unsettle you; the previously mentioned sound design is fantastic, using methods employed so effectively in the films of David Lynch. There is a found footage element present throughout the film but it adds little to the overall structure apart from making things just that much more tense. An unnecessary third act reveal and some wince inducing violence make it certain that the film will leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
The film is worth watching for the fantastic performance from Gretchen Lodge who really gives it her all, but sadly as a film it’s ultimately something of a disappointment.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10