An upsetting waste of psychodrama tropes, a personal favorite supporting actress, and elbow jabs at both possession movies and the here-to-stay found footage plague, Lovely Molly is pretty stinky. Forty-five minutes of admirable scares and tense storytelling sadly births another forty-five minutes of frustrating, prolonged silences, cringeworthy melodrama, and a real pooper of a winky conclusion.
Fuck that, honestly.
Molly (Gretchen Lodge). Dirty girl, dirty secrets! Yet, we’ve seen it all before.
I truly wanted to love and enjoy Stinky, Tired, Whiny, Lovely Molly. I did. Starting with the fact that it’s a film by Eduardo Sanchez, the co-writer and co-director of The Blair Witch Project (predecessor to the single most significant contribution to American cinema, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows a.k.a. “Bonerfest 2000″), the 1999 blockbuster that I’ve recently re-watched and loved yet again for its camerawork and really adorable improv screams.
Ten years later, he’s written and directed another feature, one that unfortunately features a scene in which his desperate lead actress, eyeliner smeared and cigg waving, performs a crackhead monologue in a nightie. She looks like a drunk Ellen Barkin defending herself after her family bans her from next year’s Barkin barbeque.
Everything begins innocently, and watchably, enough. Adorable small-town peach Molly (Gretchen Lodge, not far from being Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s little sister with a trashy skunk-highlight side swipe ‘do) marries Tim (Johnny Lewis), a mousy hunk who we hardly get to know. All the folks of this small country town are pleased as friggin’ punch to see the union of two of their most beloved young persons. Molly and Tim move into Molly’s old family home, where they find harmony. And ghosts who rape people.
It’s a house haunting not at all unlike Paranormal Activity‘s routine spookery, what with its loud, indecipherable noises coming from the spare bedroom and doors shutting on their own, but this one gave me major diarrhea. Right off the bat, there’s nothing striking about the goings-on that stands apart from the bajillion haunting rip-offs we’ve seen in the past few years, which is annoying. No Carol-Ann. No Michelle Pfeiffer in a bathtub. Hence, feel free to dub this Paranormal Activia.
If you agree with me that chubby little Katie Featherstone‘s ranting about possessions were enough, then Molly blends into the pack of possessed ladies like a silly waif. At night, she tells Tim that she hears a whispered song from the floors below, a man’s voice — I wouldn’t be surprised if it were Tom Waits — singing “Lovely Mawwww-lly… Loooovely Mawwww-lllyyy…” but Tim, of course, hears nothing. What’dju expect? Tim also leaves Molly alone in the house for days at a time for his own personal, unknown reasons, so don’t blame him for being deaf. He’s simply never there!
Molly goes to work at her mall janitor job (come on…) to shake off the willies, but she gets caught on camera being raped by this invisible singing ghost man. Of course, like something out of Hollow Man or Ghost, it looks stupidly like she’s fucking her own bare ass against a wall. Mall co-workers get confused, and naturally, this extreme change in action causes Molly to start acting out. She returns to old habits: obsessing over family photos of her dead parents in the attic, and doing heroin.
Yes, doing heroin.
Johnny Lewis. Sign. Me. Up.
When adorkable Tim comes home one night from one of his normal unexplained vacations and sees Molly’s bent spoon, syringe, and lighter just lyin’ out on the kitchen table for all hubbies and ghost rapists to see, he simply lets out a long sighhh.
I’d say that moment largely wraps up what Lovely Molly is all about: teenage bumpkins marrying way too early in life and not knowing how the hell to react to anything, whether it be drug use or ghost rape. I wanted to lend Molly and Tim my DVD of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to show them how bumpkins can really kick back. But by the time the movie proves to be about nothing but one unsympathetic girl’s downspiral into convoluted hysteria, I really don’t feel like handing out any favors to these characters. I just get cranky. Give us some plot!
The apparently now frog-throated Alexandra Holden plays a good enough game, though, as Molly’s sister Hannah. I found Holden so watchable because, A: she’s not slinking around her dimly lit house for way too long wondering why Tom Waits is serenading her — unlike some people… MOLLY… B: she helped some pregnant cheerleaders rob a bank in 2001′s teen comedy Sugar & Spice, but mostly because C: she’s the only actor who attempts to make more going on than what’s (barely) on the script’s page. I commend her for her hesitant-worried performance and pray this is the last on a list of pieces of shit films. Onto greener pastures, Alexandra.
A sidenote: Molly picks up a hobby as her invisible torment reaches a peak – videotape everything. Okay, in today’s age, I get it. Yes, that’s something the average person would do. Logically, it makes sense. Contextually, however: this bumpkin has absolutely NO reason to be videotaping ANYTHING!
At no point does Molly utter so much as, “I need to capture this on tape so people know I’m not crazy,” which would have given us an eye-rolling but necessary reason for videotaping shit. At no point is there a disclaimer before or after the film, “Molly’s video recordings were discovered with her body, along with ghost semen in her dead vagina,” which would have made us go, OH, so THAT’S what these recordings are!
At one point, Tim stares down at Molly; she’s tangled on the closet floor, pointing her DV cam up at him. We see this from her digi-POV. Naturally, in a movie marketed as horror with found footage aspects, the audience expects (and needs) something horrifying to happen: his body will jerk backwards, or she will screech, or something will randomly smash into the camera from out of nowhere. But nothing happens. The scene ends. He helps her up from the floor. It was simply a ‘dramatic moment via shaky-cam POV.’ The digi-cam is totally arbitrary. Which leads me to the conclusion:
It’s a drama about a girl’s repressed memories manifesting themselves and torturing her with a fiery rage. So why are we watching? She decides to videotape everything — and the director decides to present the footage to the audience in straightforward real-time — because Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Cloverfield, Quarantine, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, The Last Exorcism and The Devil Inside (and even Chronicle) made money.
Eye candy Lewis, the kitsch of Holden, and an innovative deer creature aside, this is one non-lovely folly.
RATING (OUT OF 5):
Lovely Molly is rated “R” for nudity, grisly images, the teethiest kiss since Jess Wiexler‘s snatch chomped the boys, and lumpy neighbor ladies.