'Lovely Molly' takes up where 'Blair Witch Project' left off
"Lovely Molly," directed by Eduardo Sanchez and starring Gretchen Lodge, Alexandra Holden and Johnny Lewis, reveals a horrific but predictable story. More polished than Sanchez's "Blair Witch Project," it's a mixed bag that is ultimately more sad than scary, writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald. The movie is playing at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, in Seattle.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Lovely Molly,' with Gretchen Lodge, Alexandra Holden, Johnny Lewis. Written and directed by Eduardo Sanchez. 99 minutes. Rated R for strong disturbing violence and grisly images, some graphic sexual content and nudity, drug use and language. SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.
Thirteen years ago, young writer/directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick made "The Blair Witch Project," an ultra-low-budget, high-concept horror film that created a box-office and Internet sensation. (Were the movie's trio of amateur filmmakers, who seemingly captured a terrifying witch hunt on their video cameras, really dead? No, but a surprisingly number of people thought they were.) Now Sanchez is back with the haunted-house/haunted-woman tale "Lovely Molly," which blends "Blair Witch"-style found footage with a more conventional narrative. The result is a more polished film, but still a mixed bag.
Molly (Gretchen Lodge, in a strong film debut) is a young newlywed, living in her former childhood home with husband Tim (Johnny Lewis). It's clear from the beginning that Molly harbors terrible memories of her childhood: Her parents' deaths are a shadow hanging over the house, and both Molly and her sister Hannah (Alexandra Holden, looking like a haunted pixie) are still trying desperately to shake off a dark past. All of this makes for a good setup, but not one that makes much sense: Isn't there another way for Molly and Tim to save money than to live in this house of horrors, full of unexplained banging and sobbing in the dead of night? Why doesn't Molly stay with Hannah (as she's invited to do) when Tim, a truck driver, is away? Why doesn't Hannah intercede as Molly becomes increasingly disturbed? Why does Tim leave Molly alone — again — after he's found her naked and incoherent in the backroom, the one with the creepy old doll on the bed? Why don't they put brighter bulbs in the lamps?
The answer — and "Lovely Molly" is hardly the only horror film guilty of this — is that if the people in it behaved in a logical way, then there wouldn't be a movie. Sanchez has a knack for making a mundane lace-curtained kitchen door suddenly look terrifying, and he does good work with the actors, particularly an eerily haunted Lodge. But "Lovely Molly," as it gradually reveals a horrific yet predictable story, never really gets under our skin. Things go bump in the night, but we never quite feel caught up in it; ultimately, it's more sad than scary.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org