Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lovely Molly

Directed by Eduardo Sánchez.
2012. Rated R, 99 minutes.
Gretchen Lodge
Johnny Lewis
Alexandra Holden
Ken Arnold
Lauren Lakis
Field Blauvelt
Daniel Ross
Todd Ryan Jones
Alexis Savage

Molly (Lodge) is a newlywed. With her hubby Tim (Lewis), for reasons never quite clear, she’s moved into the house where she grew up, the house of her deceased parents. Pretty soon, things start going bump in the night. Apparently, something is walking around the house, calling her name, and generally driving her batshit insane. It doesn’t help that Tim is a truck driver often away on long trips for days at a time. While he’s away he sends the local clergy, Pastor Bobby (Blauvelt), over to check on her. Her sister Hannah (Holden) also keeps tabs on her. They’re all worried she’ll go back to using heroin. Molly insists she won’t, and that she’s not crazy, yet she keeps hearing and seeing things. Not surprisingly, she comes apart a little more each day.

This is actually an interesting watch that takes standard haunted house tropes and makes them work. The footsteps, ominous voices, and the like are employed to wonderful effect. Their juxtaposition with the performance of Gretchen Lodge in the lead role is what makes it go. Her mental health is disintegrating in front of our eyes. She really seems to be a woman no longer able to hold it all together. It’s very nice work in a genre not known for attracting the best and brightest stars. She makes all of those regular horror elements spring to life. We really feel that she is in danger. The spiraling story knocks us back on our heels a bit while she draws us into the story.

While watching, we wonder if any of this is “real,” or if Molly is just that far gone. Her actions grow in peculiarity and severity as we roll along. We also desperately want to know what is with her fixation on the mother and daughter who live nearby. Eventually, all hell breaks loose and answers start flying in from every direction. It’s a beautifully twisted final act that doesn’t shy away from depicting what is essentially a breakdown. We think.

Then we get to the final two scenes. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say it all turns into a giant WTF ending. Sure, it’s ambiguous, providing no easy answers so it should be right up my alley. Unfortunately, it’s more confusing than anything and introduces things not previously in the movie. This could work, but it’s a jarring blow to our fundamental understanding of what’s been happening. It’s somehow much more far fetched than anything else that has happened and almost totally undermines what is, up until then, an enjoyable horror experience.

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