From one of the directors of The Blair Witch Project comes Lovely Molly, a pretty good, although thoroughly unoriginal, ghost story. Its unoriginality is not necessarily a bad thing as what the movie does, it does well. However if you’ve watched a bunch of ghost movies, and/or read as many books about them as I have then nothing, and I mean nothing, will come as a surprise here. It is pretty much paint by numbers story telling. Even the Deep Dark Secret™ behind this story I guessed correctly in, I kid you not, five minutes of starting this movie.
Gee, sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it?
Well what keeps this movie from becoming a complete waste of time is the actual filmmaking and the actors. While the story is nothing special, the actors seem to give it their all and for the most part they succeed in creating believable characters that you actually care about. As for how the movie is put together, director Sánchez partially returns to his Blair Witch roots as about a quarter of this movie is shot in first person POV, or what is commonly called found footage style. The rest of the movie is told through a more traditional narrative and the combination of the two styles actually works well here. There are also some good moments of creepy dread and thankfully not a single ham-handed jump scare that I can recall. You know, Hollywood’s usual ‘go to’ for what they think makes a movie scary? Any chills Lovely Molly gives you are totally earned by a director, cinematographer, and cast that knows exactly what they’re doing and pulling it off well.
I just really wish the story was more interesting.
The film out and out tells you exactly where it’s heading from the very first scene where a young woman named Molly is crying into a video camera. Hmm, do I see the shade of The Blair Witch Project rearing its head? Anyway, she says that all the bad things she has done are not her fault and that ‘someone’ made her do it. She then tries to slit her own throat but can’t because ‘it won’t let me.’ So yeah, this movie seems to go out of its way NOT to surprise the audience from the word go.
As for the rest of the story, it revolves around Molly who just married a guy named Tim. The young couple moves back into her recently deceased dad’s farmhouse as they’re both hard working types with blue-collar jobs and not a lot of cash. Tim is a truck driver so he’s often away from his wife for long stretches of time, which is perfect for Molly to get terrorized by some unseen presence in the house and to start going batty. Soon Molly is jumping at noises, is back to doing drugs, as she’s a recovering addict, and getting molested by the invisible man in the back halls of the Wal-Mart-like store she works at. Her sexuality starts getting supercharged, as does her capacity for violence, she begins to have conversations with her dead daddy, and ‘someone’ (three guess as to who) starts videotaping the neighbor family, paying special attention to the little girl. Oh there’s also some infidelity tossed into the mix that seemed completely out of the blue, especially when you consider that Molly and Tim had only been living in that house for a few months. I think it only exists to give some weird justification to some very bad things that happen later, but the movie would have been made much more powerful and horrifying without that unnecessary subplot.
The new Blu-ray from Image Entertainment looks good as the entire movie was shot on HD cameras and so it transfers well to BD. The haunted house looks appropriately rundown and creepy and the colors are nice and washed out to impart the bleak feeling. As for special features, while there are a few notable ones to be found on the disc, I really can’t get all that excited about them. There is an audio commentary track by director Sánchez and the co-writer, Jamie Nash, but dear lord is it a bore and a chore to listen to. Nothing insightful or funny is even brought up and this is one commentary better left unheard. There are also a handful of very short featurettes that also borrow from the Blair Witch Project’s bag of tricks and try to blur the line of what’s real and what’s not. That is, could this movie be based on real world events? (Cue spooky music here) They’re not bad extras, they are kind of short, and really not worth a watch.
Lovely Molly is your basic ghost story saved from mediocrity by a competent cast and crew. If you like movies about ghosts then you should get some good scares here, but if you’re looking for something new from the chain-rattling spooks, you’ll probably be disappointed. This flick is worth a watch, but I don’t necessarily know if it’s worth a purchase. Consider it a so-so recommendation.