Over the years, we have been exposed to a wide variety of nefarious things in our chosen genre, Fellow Fans. From monsters to ghosts to psychotic revenants to wandering demons to split personalities, we’ve run a broad gamut of cinematic bad guys to satisfy our cravings for villains. Sometimes they were almost (and even literally) represented as omniprescient, raging forces of nature; other times, they hid in the last places we’d expect: the “heroes” themselves.
Lovely Molly is a taut, personal little flick that takes the simple concept of “Who’s The Bad Guy?” and slaps us across the teeth with it. It’s not a perfect film, but it has the virtue of a pretty interestingly woven tale.
Molly and Tim are a happy newlywed couple who have the good fortune of being able to move into Molly’s large family home; she’s recently inherited the property, and not having to worry about a place to live is a big load off their minds. Her joy is short-lived, however; almost immediately after moving in, Molly begins to experience strange and often frightening phenomena, but only when she’s alone. Unfortunately, Tim is a truck driver and is often away from home, and she’s stuck with her tormentors, whether they be real or imagined. At first, she shares these fears with her husband and sister, but as they become more imposing, she withdraws into herself, using a video camera to document the strange happenings around her for proof, as she fears no one will believe her. You see, we find out that as a child, Molly was abused by her father in this very home; as a consequence of this horrible experience, in her teen years she developed a terrible drug problem. She’s been clean for a long time, but she worries that her loved ones will doubt either her sanity or sobriety if she tells them of the escalating events around her in the house. Surely she’s just distraught from the bad memories of the house they’ll think…or worse, she’s back on the needle; either way, she’s torn by the lack of trust she perceives from both her family and herself. Not surprisingly, her sanity begins to erode; the line between what is real, what is imagined, and what may be either blurs often to transparency.
As she finds herself consumed by fear and doubting her own senses, Molly’s world becomes a nightmare hell of mistrust and terror…
This movie does a good job of keeping you guessing; we see a strange, ritualistic looking symbol in a lot of places around the house; there’s also a dank room in the cellar that seems to have been used by cultists. The ghost of Molly’s father is hinted at; does he still walk the halls? Even Molly’s possible psychosis is postulated, and her downward spiral from her fear lends a lot to this avenue. The writing (a return to the genre by Eduardo Sanchez) and structure offers you several possibilities as to what’s going on, but leaves you to make up your own mind: Is Molly haunted by the ghost of her abusive father? Is the house itself possessed by some demonic force left over from the hinted at rituals? Or is Molly just nuckin’ futz? Speaking of Molly, I have to take a moment to say that Gretchen Lodge’s performance as the titular character was remarkable to say the least. Clearly, she put a lot of passion and work into the role, and her fearless portrayal is both emotionally sympathetic and viscerally jarring; I’ve not seen a more harrowing depiction of a descent into madness in a long time. For the hounds, I’ll tell you that it’s not an effects-heavy film, but when they happen, the effects it has are quite effective and disturbing ; blood-spurting bites, bloated guts and maggots are the gore d’jour.
The film has some issues, but they’re those kind that really boil down to personal taste; some folks feel cheated by having no solid resolution; that’s the gripe I’ve heard most often, anyway.
Personally, I don’t feel like I wasted my time watching it; I liked a lot of its elements, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily loved it; there are a couple of serious WTF? moments late in the film that I ‘m still on the fence about; on the one hand, they’re kind of hokey-weird, on the other, it could be a further extension of Molly’s insanity…if she’s insane…if not…
…aw, hell with it. There is no hard fast answer; you have to watch it yourself and come up with your own. I’ll say that if you’re interested in a psychological ride with an excellent lead performance and some crafty writing, you could do a lot worse than giving this one a chance; if, however, you’re the type that likes things nice and neat, you may wanna try something else.
That’s my take on this one.