Sadly falls short as it takes a disappointing veer into shock territory.
A psychological thriller/ horror from The Blair witch Project’s Eduardo Sanchez, Lovely Molly almost shows the keen understanding of horror that made that earlier film a hit, but sadly falls short as it takes a disappointing veer into shock territory.
Taking Blair Witch style found footage sections and mixing them with a more traditional format, the film tells the story of Molly, a newlywed who is left at home alone for long stretches at a time. Things naturally begin to go bump in the night, and Molly begins to exhibit increasingly strange behaviour, leading both the character and audience to wonder just what strange forces are at work here.
The first problem lies in the integration of found footage. These sequences are the best in the film, but in adopting a dark, amateurish tone for the rest of it in an attempt at a more seamless change, the film as a whole suffers aesthetically. This is a very dark film, with the cinematography leaving much to be desired as we struggle with the overly murky visuals. The atmosphere is present and correct, with the first half thick with a sense of foreboding, but you do get the sense that the two techniques do not make for easy bedfellows.
While the narrative does leave a pleasing ambiguity, you do get the feeling that a lot could be very easily missed here. The “truth” behind goings on can be deducted through the neatly constructed viral side of the project, with the ARG and website aspects making the idea a far more interesting one than it perhaps should be. The problem is that when it comes to storytelling, the actual 100 minutes of film are a little too subtle to really get the genuinely eerie plot across.
It’s a real shame that the creepy atmosphere of the first half gives way to shock tactics in the second, with a lot of shocking behaviour shown front and centre, including two horrible moments of violence that feel a little out of place. If only the creep factor could have been maintained, we could have been looking at one of the better horror films of the year, rather than a merely average one.
One element that can carry no blame though, is lead Gretchen Lodge. Given a tricky task in playing a recovering drug user who may or may not be demonically possessed, haunted, or even just going slowly mad, hers is an admirably committed performance. The intensity of the role could easily have been far too much to ask, but Lodge takes it in her stride, evoking both our fears and sympathies to keep our interest as the story limps slowly along in the second half.
A slight missed opportunity to pull horror up from a so far awful year, Lovely Molly is sadly more of the same, when it could so easily have been one of the stronger efforts. Not frightening enough, visually messy and too slight on story to fill 100 minutes on its own, the film relies on a good central performance and an interesting wider mythology that ultimately asks too much of audiences.