Give ‘Lovely Molly’ a try, if you can take the tension

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Lovely Molly

Directed by Eduardo Snachez

Written by Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash

USA, 2012

Since Lovely Molly comes from director Eduardo Sanchez of The Blair Witch Project fame, and since it opens with a harrowing first-person camcorder scene in the style of Paranormal Activity, It’s only natural to think that it might be derivative of those two films. The first time that Molly (Gretchen Lodge) heads down the stairs to investigate the strange sounds that her parents’ house is making, it seems that the result will be according to formula: shadowy figure in the background, musical stinger designed to make the audience jump, cut to next scene. That’s not what happens. This movie is looking for deeper scares.

Molly and her newlywed husband have moved into the house because neither of them can afford anything else, and they have nowhere else to go once it’s clear that the house is haunted. Except, rather like The Shining and other great horror films, a haunted house is not the real problem. The real problem is that the haunt is somehow infectious. It’s hungry for more.

Lodge is virtually unknown – her IMDb has only one other credit – but this film marks her as one to watch. Molly’s descent into madness is an incredible high-wire stunt for an actor, full of terror and vulnerability and anger and aggressive sexuality. As with a lot of recent movies about hauntings, Lovely Molly plays it close to the vest about whether the haunting is all in its heroine’s head, and that nuance is entirely on Lodge to deliver. In the final reel it doesn’t quite work out; the movie’s final two scenes destroy the ambiguity that Lodge has worked so hard to build up, but she is not to be blamed for that.

The greatest horror in Lovely Molly is that Molly has loved ones, people who care about her and don’t know what the house is transforming her into. There are a few scenes where it might seem ludicrous that the police don’t get called on Molly, but this film does a fine job of establishing the family relationships to that end. Is it really that easy to admit that a loved one has become a different person, a dangerous person that you’d have to call the police on? If that sounds like a terrifying prospect, then Lovely Molly is the horror film of choice.

-Mark Young

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