Lovely Molly. 2011. Directed & Written by Eduardo Sánchez.
Starring Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden, and Field Blauvelt.
Rated R. 99 minutes.
★★★★★ (Blu ray release)
I’m a sucker for a movie that uses found footage as part of its visual shtick, but isn’t necessarily a full fledged found footage film. Eduardo Sánchez is a filmmaker who has really used found footage, in various ways, to its full potential on more than one occasion. Naturally, after the success of The Blair Witch Project, which he co-directed and wrote alongside Daniel Myrick, Sánchez explored the sub-genre more.
Recently, I really enjoyed his his Bigfoot film Exists. He knows how to use found footage properly. Though, in Lovely Molly he does a lot more framing in his shot composition while still using both bits of found footage. Sánchez still includes a lot of handheld camerawork, but uses it for some of the more beautifully framed shots in a lot of the scenes.Lovely Molly has a great story. Two newlyweds, Tim and Molly (Lewis & Lodge), move into the bride’s former home where she lived with her family. We find out Molly used to have some type of problem with drugs; heroin, we come to discover later, it seems. Things seem all right at first when they move in, although they get a fright after believing someone to have broken into their house. After things calm down, it becomes all too clear Molly is starting to have problems again. At work she’s caught on camera, seemingly being thrust into a wall, sexually, by an unseen force. Of course while her boss believes something is not quite right at all with Molly, she claims a man threw her into the wall and started to sexually assault her.
Sánchez works in moments of found footage, as Molly, or at least we presume it’s her at first (later we find out for sure who it is), goes wandering in the night. First, she comes across a little girl in a nearby yard, then she finds a dead deer caught in some sort of mesh wiring. The really scary behaviour starts from here; Molly hums a little tune while looking at the dead animal, almost how you’d imagine somebody would hum while admiring something. You know it will only get worse.
Which it quickly does, as there’s not only a supernatural presence lurking over Molly, but she also falls off the wagon and starts using drugs again. I like the whole premise of Lovely Molly. The main character not only has to deal with the issues of her drug addiction, on top of that the newfound stress of getting married and starting a new life with another person, she also has deep issues connected to her father.The film is a really intense look at Molly’s descent into madness. However, that being said, there’s a supernatural element to the film. I don’t think it’s all meant to be inside of her head, something contained solely in Molly, because there is a shot near the end that makes me think otherwise. Regardless of any of that, this is still a look inside Molly’s head. Whether or not her father’s ghost is actually kicking around takes a backseat. It’s all about the effect it’s having on Molly.
There’s a moment where you can draw the line on this subject – a scene where the influence of her father, whether mental or supernatural, manifests itself violently in the real world. Molly is sitting in the closet, terrified her father is still alive, though everyone knows him to be dead. Her husband Tim goes to console her. They embrace, they kiss. And then Molly latches onto Tim’s lips. She nearly bites his whole mouth off. This is when everyone, including the audience, realizes Molly has been horribly infiltrated by something evil.
I love everything about this film, especially the performances. Gretchen Lodge does a fantastically haunting job at portraying Molly. There are some tense and uncomfortable situations in Lovely Molly, and yet Lodge dives into them wholly. There are points she really creeped me out.
One specific moment is when her boss confronts her about the security camera footage; her reaction is chilling. Another point is when Molly and her sister are having an argument; Molly accuses her sister of something serious, all the while caressing the dead deer she’d found earlier in the woods. A horrifying sight, Lodge is a daring actress.
Everyone else does a fine job, all of them, but it is Lodge who continually keeps me watching, and one of the reasons I watch Lovely Molly as my go-to choice any time I can’t settle on a scary movie.
There’s another notable scene later in the film. When I first saw it I actually had to keep rewinding a few times, pausing on the image. Molly’s naked, she walks out to her backyard into the dark of night. In the distance, a terrifying horse-headed man with giant arms waiting. As she moves closer, it spreads its arms welcoming her to the night. This actually stuck with me, still does. The image really worked me over, and I find it really creepy.
Sánchez proves he doesn’t always have to rely on found footage to scare people. Though he includes moments of found footage, as well as lots of handheld shots, maybe even almost all handheld, there’s a notable difference between this film and some of his other work. I really enjoy Sánchez regardless of how he films. He knows what’s scary, and often easily gets in touch with the creep factor in me – that I know for sure.
The Blu ray release is plenty worthy. There’s a set of featurettes on the Mongrel Media release: Path to Madness, Haunted Past, Demonic Forces, and Is It Real?. These are great because they’re played off like documentaries, as if they were done by A&E or something similar. Sánchez is a master at doing things this way, I think. Ever since The Blair Witch Project I’ve admired this reality based take on horror films, which aren’t reality at all, but still pure fiction. The featurettes really enforce Lovely Molly as a tale of real people. It works, and it adds something to the whole story. The featurettes even go so far as to trace back the roots of Molly’s family home. Then they also talk about supposed ghostly moments during production. Whether that last bit is purely fiction, I’m guessing it is, doesn’t matter – it adds to the whole mystery of Molly’s story in the film.
Go get this Blu ray release. If you enjoyed the film, the Blu ray will not disappoint. The image is clear, perfect, you can really get an eyeful of the horror with this great release. The special features are highly entertaining and add to the whole film experience. Sánchez makes great horror. I hope he’ll keep it up.