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Half of the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT duo Eduardo Sanchez (who directed the now classic with Daniel Myrick) has been churning out some pretty good films since the Witch put him on the map. I boogied to his alien abduction with a twist Altered (2006), heard good things about Seventh Moon (2008) with Amy Smart (haven’t seen it but will seek it out) and I finally got to tap his most recent offering LOVELY MOLLY. Did I dig it? Yes I did, A LOT! But man what a tough watch that was!
It’s funny cause a lot of my buds saw the movie before I did, and their gripe with it was that they had no idea what was going on. It was too vague for them and didn’t spell it out enough. Fair enough, movies of this ilk are not for everybody. Me on the other hand, it was one of the reasons that I dug it so much. LOVELY MOLLY said what it had to say and asked me to make sense of it. Think puzzle pieces scattered on a grave site. Granted I got confused along the way, but as the end credits rolled, I saw the whole picture, made my decisions as to what was truly going on, I was all good. This slow burn affair was not a fun one by any means. It was one of those that I was digging watching, and was totally engulfed in, but at the same time I couldn’t wait for it to end. And I mean that in a good way, it so got under my skin that I wanted OUT! The themes at hand were not pleasant ones that’s for sure: drug addiction, mental illness and sexual abuse jacked up by a potential haunting, possession, demonic mythology and of course murder. And all of it was communicated in a mix of formats. It was shot conventionally for the bulk of its running times while at other times we had the whole “handy cam” POV shtick going on. The latter had me scratching my head in terms of one subplot, but once I figured out what was what, I was a satisfied horror fiend. I also dug the spin on the whole character filming evil with a handy cam. Usually it's an outside threat, here Molly often filmed herself cause she could be possessed! I found that clever.
Scare wise Sanchez whipped out a couple of BLAIR WITCH PROJECTS tricks out of his grab bag (even going as far as slyly winking to Heather’s monologue via the opening) and they worked here as well (that night vision stuff was mucho eerie). He also stuck to old school fright devices: creepy sounds (loved that creaking door), things going bump in the night and lots of chill inducing “something staring out from the darkness” moments. It should be stabbed that the sound design here and the score by Chicago based band Tortoise were solid and responsible for many of the creepiness here. Suspense was definitely in the house, I found myself squirming in my seat many o times, anxious as to what was gonna go down. None of it would have mattered though if it wasn’t for the INCREDIBLE central performance by Gretchen Lodge as Molly. WOW! The lady gave a fearless, heart wrenching and daunting show. At times I wanted to hug her, other times; I wanted to hop onto the first bus to Peru to get away from her. This was a star making performance in my opinion; if the film would have garnered more attention with a wide release, we would be hearing about Gretchen Lodge right f-ing now. Simply amazing! The lass was well backed by the underrated Alexandra Holden, who gave a credible and endearing performance and the late Johnny Lewis who made me feel for his character’s plight big time.
Any complaints? Not much. An hours in I did find the chain of events a tad redundant and the questions “Why isn’t Molly booking out?” – “Why is nobody getting Molly out of that house?” did surface in my meek noggin. But that wasn’t enough for the film to lose its grasp on my throat and my balls. On the whole LOVELY MOLLY was a stimulating, upsetting, spooky and tragic genre effort with an ending that simply ruined my day. If you like your horror straight up, not sure this will be for you, but if like me you sometimes liked to be challenged by a horror film via a healthy dose of ambiguity, then you may want to give Molly a call! Say wassup!