Eduardo Sánchez makes a bold decision at the very beginning of his new film, Lovely Molly: it opens with Molly (Gretchen Lodge) speaking into a home video camera, and from there it segues into home movie footage of Molly’s wedding to Tim (Johnny Lewis). Sánchez was one of the co-directors of the massively influential film The Blair Witch Project, and audiences may be surprised to see this film at least partially returning to the “found footage” concept that film helped to turn into a popular horror subgenre. However, once our characters have been established, Lovely Molly moves away from the “found footage” style and into an unsettling character study.
After their wedding, Molly and Tim move into the house where Molly and her sister Hannah (Alexandra Holden) grew up. Tim is a truck driver, often leaving Molly at home by herself while he makes long runs. After the couple have lived in the house for a few months, strange events begin to occur: their alarm system goes off after a door is opened without any sign of forced entry, and soon after Molly starts hearing voices in the house. Convinced that something strange is happening, Molly begins shooting with her video camera around the house in hopes of catching the sounds or something else in order to prove these things aren’t in her head. When Tim returns home from a run to find Molly sitting nude and nearly catatonic in her childhood bedroom, things take a turn for the worse.
Lovely Molly takes a much different approach than other recent possession/exorcism films, to which it does bear some similarity. As more of Molly’s history is revealed, what is happening to her becomes less clear. There are hints that her erratic behavior may be tied to mysterious symbols found in a dark pit in a shed on the house’s property, but it seems just as likely that she may simply be succumbing once again to a recurring drug abuse problem. The film occasionally switches back to footage from Molly’s camera, which is benign and dull at the beginning but soon becomes unsettling, particularly when Molly begins filming her neighbors. The uncertainty of Molly’s motives makes these scenes some of the most disturbing scenes of any horror film in recent memory.
Huge credit also has to go to lead Gretchen Lodge as Molly, though– her performance is alternately sympathetic and terrifying. She is in virtually every shot of the film that isn’t presented through her camera, and she is fantastic. Co-writers Sánchez and Jamie Nash smartly leave many questions unanswered while teasing more and more unpleasant possibilities for Molly’s descent, and Lodge’s excellent performance makes it truly sad to watch as Molly unravels, regardless of the cause. Lovely Molly is often tough to watch, but it’s well worth the effort.
Image Entertainment released Lovely Molly on DVD and Blu-ray on 28 August 2012. Special features include In Search Of…-styled featurettes entitled “Path to Madness,” “Haunted Past,” “Demonic Forces,” and “Is It Real?” Each of these runs about seven minutes and helps flesh out the complex backstory of Molly’s family and the house itself. The disc also includes a feature-length commentary with Sánchez and co-writer Jamie Nash and the film’s theatrical trailer.