I think we can all agree that whether you liked the movie or you didn’t, The Blair Witch Project had lasting effects on horror movies and what a small group of people with a couple of good ideas can do on an incredibly small budget. Not only did this change the production aspect of filmmaking, showing what can be accomplished on such a small budget, but also gave a resurgence to found footage movies, to the point that we’re all goddamned sick of them. Half of the writing/directing team for The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sánchez, continues to make horror movies with luke warm results. Altered gave us some rednecks seeking revenge against an alien who abducted them and Seventh Moon showed a couple trying to avoid being sacrifices for some cult in Japan. Both were promising, but never really lived up to any sort of bar set by The Blair Witch Project, so now that it’s 13 years after its release, what does Eduardo have for us next? Hint: what’s next is Lovely Molly, which is this movie that I’m about to review. I guess that’s more the answer than it is just a hint but I’m no scientist. Also, the spoiler-free review is that if you’re looking for a good ghost/possession movie, than you should check this movie out, but if answers are what you need, then this movie might not be for you.
Molly’s not looking too lovely anymore! Shit, there goes my ONLY joke and I still have so much more to say.
When we first see Molly (Gretchen Lodge) she is holding a knife to her throat and confessing that “he” won’t let her kill herself. Through the dates in the corner of the video footage, we realize we are going back in time to Molly’s wedding. She has married Tim (Johnny Lewis) and the two of them are moving into Molly’s parents’ old house, with them having died years ago. After a few months, some weird things start happening, like footsteps and doors opening and closing, all the typical “maybe it’s haunted” kinds of stuff. Tim spends a lot of time on the road, as he’s a truck driver, and he wonders if Molly is really experiencing these things or if it might be tied into the fact that she’s a recovering drug addict. Unfortunately, the pressure gets to be too much for Molly and she does relapse, causing her to lose her job, affect her relationships, and does nothing to make these “hauntings” subside. The way that Molly is describing these experiences alludes to the “spirit” or whatever it is being a manifestation of her father, yet we don’t know why he’s so pissed at her and what their relationship was like.
Might be easier for you to find an outfit if you turn the lights on, ya dummy.
Molly’s behavior starts getting more and more erratic, from going out into the woods to videotape her neighbors to hanging out with a dead deer she finds to hanging out naked a lot and trying to seduce the local pastor. During one of her experiences, Tim tries to calm her down, and she ends up biting his lips quite severely. This causes her sister to intervene, and Molly starts stabbing the dead deer which she had been hiding in the basement. Molly blames her sister for their father’s death, repeatedly shouting, “YOU KILLED HIM!” until her sister leaves. Tim leaves the house and we see that Molly has invited the pastor over, and shortly after he arrives, we see him dead in a bathtub, covered in bite marks, and with a screwdriver buried into his head. We then see footage that Molly shot of the neighbor and can see Tim getting a blowjob from this neighbor which obviously makes Molly unhappy. When Tim gets home, Molly shows him the footage, smashes his head with a bat, drags him to the basement and buries the screwdriver into his head. Molly gets naked again and opens the back door to her house and starts walking out there, and after she’s taken a few steps, we see a tall figure with glowing red eyes and arms outstretched to embrace her. The next scene shows Molly’s sister going towards the house where Molly and Tim were living, and we see that the house is for sale. Molly’s sister finds a photo album, and while flipping through it, she is reminded of the happy times in her family’s life. The tone of the photo album changes when Molly’s sister sees a picture of a horse’s head has been pasted over her father’s face, and every subsequent picture of him has the same treatment. That’s when Molly’s sister starts hearing sobbing sounds coming from the closet, and when she approaches it, she extends her hand towards it, and then the movie ends.
I love me some naked ladies with a dead-eyed stare.
My immediate reaction to Lovely Molly is that it’s much better than Sanchez’s previous two films, so that’s a good starting point. I had heard that this movie was polarizing, with some people loving it and some people hating it, and I definitely lean towards the “loving it” end of the spectrum. Sadly, I didn’t really “love” it as much as I thought it was pretty good. Gretchen Lodge was good as Molly, but some of the reviews I read were absolutely raving about her performance. Don’t get me wrong, she was good, but it’s not like I couldn’t see a few other actresses doing just as good of a job, if not better. The pacing and the building of tension would probably be the films biggest strengths, as some of the jump scares made Rampaige freak out. One of the most successful, and subtle, aspects of these scares was the incorporation of audio distortion and the way it would build and build and build until the scare would release the tension.
I wanted to post a picture of the demon at the end and then remembered I couldn’t do that without photoshopping Gretchen Lodge’s buttcheeks out of it, so you’re stuck with this shot from the opening.
The reasons why I’m unsure how much I enjoyed the movie were also the reasons I really enjoyed the movie, which would be the plethora of vague plot points brought up. The biggest and most obvious plot point would be that it’s the spirit of Molly’s father that is tormenting her and it’s an extension of how she tormented her while he was alive. Considering there’s a scene where we see her getting raped, fully clothed, by an invisible force leads us to believe Molly’s father was sexually abusive towards her. The thing about that relationship that isn’t explained is the involvement of Molly’s sister and why she is blamed for killing the father. I’m not saying I required that specificity, but there’s also things like placing the horse head pictures over all of her father’s pictures, which would lead us to believe there was some sort of event in the father’s life that caused him to transform into something different. Well, let’s assume that there wasn’t anything spooky or supernatural about that transformation, and the moment where his face got replaced with a horse head just marked the time in which the father started sexually abusing Molly, then what the fuck did dragging a dead deer into her basement and stabbing it in front of her sister have anything to do with any of that? Also, what the fuck was that demon thing at the end? Was it her father finally embracing her? Or was it some sort of demon that possessed her father now possessing her? I guess now that I’ve had some time to think about the movie, I’m okay with some of these questions going unanswered, and I can pretend like Sanchez knows the answers and chose not to show them, as opposed to just arbitrarily throwing them in there. If Lovely Molly is any indication of how Sanchez has grown as a filmmaker, then I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Wolfman Moon Scale