Lovely Molly (2011)

Damn. Now that’s an intense, bleak and depressing movie…and I mean that in the best possible way. Holy shit! Much like ‘Mama’, this was another film that I knew VERY little about going in (seems to be my MO these days). Once more…I’m all the happier (or friggin tense and depressed…now) for it. Lovely Molly is latest feature film by Eduardo Sanchez, who rose to cinematic prominence in 1999 when he unleashed ‘The Blair Witch Project’ on the world, to the tune of some staggering ‘bank’. Since that time, he’s had some critical hits and some noteworthy misses. But here, he finds a VERY effective stride. Lovely Molly is essentially a downward spiral, riding on the coat-tails of a ‘slow burn’ pacing.
It follows the title character Molly (Gretchen Lodge), a former drug addict, as she’s taking a step up in Life, by getting married and inheriting her families rundown house and plot of rural land. Together with her young trucker husband Tim (Johnny Lewis), the future looks bright. Almost immediately upon moving in though, shit starts to go sideways…kicked off by what APPEARS to be a late night break-in, only with no obvious sign of forced entry. From there, Molly is tormented by what seems to be a sinister entity; the effects of which drive her already weakened will, and sense of ‘self’ to the breaking point. Then it gets REALLY weird.
Being what amounts to The Inventor of the modern day ‘found footage’ film (we will NOT talk about 1980s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’!), it stands to reason that Sanchez would employ this familiar cinematic aesthetic, but luckily he maintains an effective balance between Molly’s creepy CamCorder PoV and a standard ‘movie’ presentation. Another element that I really appreciated was the directors ability to, at times, makes me wonder if everything WAS actually happening in the protagonists troubled mind. But then he’d show us something in the peripherals that…just…couldn’t…’be’.
In order to be fair, I also need to make special mention of actress Gretchen Lodge, a performer I’m not familiar with…at this point. This is the kind of brave role that gets actors noticed. The intensity of the performance reminded me of another actress from a film I reviewed a few months back, Elizabeth Olsen in ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ (2011). Both of the roles are very edgy, and noticeably shift as the flick plays out. It also helps that Gretchen Lodge looks like a cute, sexy pixie, all slight and vulnerable…which makes that which she must endure all the more horrible. The people around her, her husband, sister, priest etc don’t exactly emerge unscathed from the ordeal either.
On a technical level, this was another film that made terrific use of sound…or at times, a distinct lack of it. Sanchez employs all manner of frequencies (high ‘keening’ sounds, low almost subliminal bass etc) to thicken the building tension while keeping actual music ‘score’ minimal. This was done with a deft touch and it accents the creepy, bleak atmosphere beautifully. Not so beautiful were a couple VERY chilling shots and scenes that had me wanting to back the hell off my couch, at high speed…particularly the one in the 3rd Act involving an open door, a slow walk and …something, in the gloom…waiting. I have goosebumps from simply writing about it! This flick also features what can only be described as a ‘kiss from hell’. (shivers) You’ll know what I mean when/if you see it.
If well-thought out horror/haunting/psychological thrillers are your ‘thing’, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Just don’t expect to feel all ‘sunshine and lollipops’ when the credits roll.

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