Review of Lovely Molly

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A newly married woman named Molly and her husband move into the bride's deceased father's house in the countryside. Shortly after, painful memories begin to haunt Molly.
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Movie Review: Lovely Molly

--Rating: R (may contain adult themes and activities, strong language, nudity, drug use and violence)
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: May 18, 2012
Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez
Genre: Horror, Thriller

"Lovely Molly" may seem very familiar to fans of "The Blair Witch Project." It utilizes the same shaky-camera, documentary style of filming as the 1999 cult horror classic, and the film's writer and director, Eduardo Sanchez, was also one of the co-directors and co-creators of "The Blair Witch Project." While the filming style is very similar, however, "Lovely Molly" is a different kind of story.

Gretchen Lodge (The Cigar Collector) plays the film's lead character Molly, a newlywed who moves back into her family home with her husband, Tim (Johnny Lewis, "The Runaways," "Felon"). Molly's family home is a dilapidated old house located deep in the woods. Her parents are both deceased, and from the moment she and her husband enter the remote home, things aren't quite right. The security alarm goes off in the night, and noises on the main floor keep the couple awake for hours. Despite their fears, there is nothing there that they can see.

Sanchez heightens the fear and tension by maneuvering Molly into staying in the house alone. Tim is a truck driver and must be gone for long periods of time, leaving Molly behind. Molly and her sister, Hannah (Alexandra Holden, "Let Go," "Post Grad"), work together at a big-box store and Molly is a recovering heroin addict who is haunted by her father's memory.

Both sisters appear to have some issues regarding their relationship with their father, and while these aren't revealed by the girls, they're implied so that the viewer comes to his or her own conclusions. Molly's sanity is slowly eaten away the longer she stays in the house, and as she slips closer to sinking back into addiction, she begins to believe her father is still alive. For Molly and her sister, this is a prospect that is more horrifying than ghosts or demons. Molly's personality alters drastically, and awful things begin to happen to the people around her. The main questions throughout the film are whether or not Molly's terror will push her back into using heroin, and whether the events that are terrifying her and her family are real or the result of her drug-addled mind. Molly's distress is palpable, and she believes she's haunted by a demon (Todd Ryan Jones, "Convincing Clooney," "Cost of a Soul"), but somehow she's the only one who can see it.

Afraid to ask for help because she fears that her husband and her sister will assume she's using heroin again, Molly videotapes what is happening in the house. This footage and the footage of someone stalking the surrounding neighbors and visiting an underground shrine are the backbone of the terror in this film.

Sanchez has created a disturbing psychological thriller in "Lovely Molly." There are no killers or monsters lurking in the shadows or jumping out to scare the viewers. Instead, he puts the camera in Molly's hand and makes the viewfinder the audience's point of view. As she searches the house, the viewer sees nothing; but the sounds of Molly's fear, her screaming and moaning, are clear enough that the camera falling provides enough unease for the viewer's imagination to create the horror itself.

Although the film's plot covers familiar horror film territory, Lodge gives a fearless performance, acting alone in many scenes. Her violent confrontation with her husband is brilliant, and although she never goes anywhere unexpected or frightening, the viewer's emotions feed off the fear she effectively conveys on the screen.

"Lovely Molly" is extremely successful at building tension. Each scene is pieced together impeccably and puts the viewer closer to the edge of his or her seat. There are several scenes that raise hairs on the back of the neck and that encourage the viewer's mind to wander to what's outside that room, behind that door, or lurking in the darkness.

While some viewers may find the pacing a bit slow for a horror film, the setting and the style Sanchez uses to shoot each scene serve to keep the unease mounting. This film does not provide the fast, jolting scares of many horror films. Instead, "Lovely Molly" patiently produces a subtle terror that grows slowly until everything the watcher thought he or she knew about Molly and the plot becomes tangled.

Lodge carries the weight of the film, despite being a relative newcomer to the big screen, and she does it remarkably well. Her character transforms from a convincingly skittish girl into a hunter. Her performance, combined with Sanchez's ability to create weird, savage horror, serve to refresh the tired horror formula to create an original piece of work.

Rating: 3 out of 5