Streaming choices seem bountiful this week; I finally sat down to watch Lovely Molly and didn’t find myself as disappointed as Rotten Tomatoes (an underwhelming 42%) or several other high-profile reviewers apparently were with the film. That said, this isn’t a title that is going to make it on my favorites list, either. Allow me to explain.
Initial Reactions (Mild Spoilers)
1. Why would anyone move into that old house?
2. She sure is nude an awful lot.
3. What’s with the horses? …HORSES ARE SCARY!
4. Wait, whatisthatinthegarden?!
It’s not usually a good sign when, asked about a film’s best attributes, a person replies “the soundtrack” before all else. In this case, though, I thought the soundtrack stood alongside as its own work of art. It’s still softly spinning in my head, lingering like the climactic garden scene.
As I understand it, a lot of feedback–push back, even–about the film was about the “ambivalence” in the plot devices: is Molly losing her mind as we watch, or is there something paranormal afoot: you be the judge, viewers! I didn’t get that, and feel pretty secure in saying that the film weighed much more heavily toward straight up paranormal. From the ghostly assault caught on camera to the sister doing the same thing with the closet at the end, it seemed structured in either haunting or possession. Sure, she did some drugs and had awful memories to live with, but in the second scene her husband Tim witnesses a disturbance in the house just as she did; in no way did that feel like a marked beginning to a “descent into madness” but one of “your house is probably haunted, dudes”.
Gretchen Lodge handled the Molly character well, getting better as the intensity grew. Everyone did a decent acting job, in fact, but the stand out for me was Alexandra Holden as her sister Hannah. (Which is weighing the two unfairly, as this was Lodge’s debut role.) I thought that employing them in a cleaning service was a good touch because it added not to the plot, but to the characters. The two were believable as onscreen sisters. Hannah’s own childhood memories and the care she has for her sister are relatable; raw. Tim is, well, Tim.
This movie is not filmed all as cinéma vérité nor is it overbearing with its usage of that device, but surprisingly, this is the best camerawork I’ve seen in any found footage. The story told through Molly’s camera is striking and added a tense freak out level that really boosted the film’s overall horror. Sánchez has made it quite the art form since the Blair Witch Project while many other directors just repeat what he did back in 1999. If found footage transcends its rapidly closing coffin, I’d keep an eye on Sánchez as the one coordinating the lift.
Sanchez’s choice of color palette and shadow was as beautiful as a bruise and a welcome backdrop. Some eliciting visuals like a dead deer and even some of the *many* scenes where Molly is nude are startling. (Not to mention the garden scene! My boyfriend confirms that, upon seeing this finale, I spoke the only words of the entire viewing: “Wait, what is THAAA-?”) The one big reveal that would be an unfortunate spoiler for those of you who haven’t viewed but plan on it is the only real questions I was left with after the credits. It has to deal with motive. I think most actions are explained outright or given a fleshy allusion, but one is tenuously lacking by my account. The very end part that focuses on Hannah was the only point in the film that felt a little trite, but was necessary I think.
Overall, Lovely Molly had a fair amount of scares, enough original story to be captivating, good female leads, and it gives the clop of a horse’s hoof a much darker tone than any movie before. I wouldn’t recommend it as the centerpiece of a movie night, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend skipping it, either. Let me know what you think!