Lovely Molly ReviewJoe Shaffer
I'm sure there are a few readers who will bypass everything I've written here and scroll straight to the score at the bottom. They might spot that healthy 8/10 rating and run to Netflix to watch Lovely Molly, anticipating a "good" horror outing. Woe be unto you those who know not what they're getting into! For though I do give Lovely Molly my stamp of approval, I would not recommend it to the general public, mainly because it will leave you in dire need of a three-hour shower by the time you're finished.
The movie focuses on the titular protagonist, the beautiful Molly, who has wed her love and moved back into her family's old house. At first all seems peachy, until she and her hubby hear a violent bang on their backdoor, followed by their house alarm sounding. Though the police determine that there was no forced entry, something did enter Molly's house. Slowly, shadows of her past return to haunt her: drug addiction, sexual abuse, and her sack-of-crap of a father. The antagonistic apparition that has entered her home progressively deprives her of the happiness she thought she had discovered, leading into a complete descent into madness...
Lovely Molly does not mess around with copious amounts of gore or a huge body count. It would rather spook you through suggestions and psychological scares. Thuds that the audience hears in the night give way to ghostly wails and the clopping of hooves. Slowly, we see how the events take their toll on Molly, and are forced into the awkward position of either feeling sorry for her or regarding her as a monster herself. The possession she undergoes transforms her into complicated being; a predatory, yet seemingly fragile and unstable creature.
Above all, Lovely Molly isn't a particularly frightening film. Rather than dredging fear out of its viewers, the movie is more intent on making you feel either terribly uncomfortable or sickened. Remember One Hour Photo? Yeah, it's that kind of uncomfortable, only worse. There's one scene, for instance, in which she encounters the phantasm while at work. However, it isn't until her boss reveals the (rather sexually disturbing) surveillance footage of what transpired between her and the specter that your skin begins to crawl...
For most people, material like this is a deal breaker, and I think that's fair. There are some of us, though, who don't mind watching a complicated film like this, mostly because of the poignant message it attempts to convey. While some might see Lovely Molly as an exploitation film, others might take it as an allegory for mental illness and subsequent drug addiction resulting from years of abuse, likening all of the phenomena to theistic Satanism and demonic possession. It's definitely a tough subject to hit just right, but Director Eduardo Sanchez hits all the right notes with this film, mostly because he doesn't present the material in a gratuitous manner.
In terms of atmosphere, Lovely Molly also succeeds, sporting fitting grittiness and low lighting. Scare scenes are perfectly illuminated, with a light shining on the action while surrounding set pieces remain fairly dim and forbidding. On top of that, the movie sports fantastic makeup, courtesy of Jessica Heibeck, Crystal Soveroski, and Wesley Wofford. With their expert touches, we can visibly see Molly's psychological descent: her face taking on a pale complexion, her hair becoming matted, and hints of gore eventually caking her body. Both lighting and makeup may sound like minor details, but they add terrifically to Lovely Molly's dreary mood.
Lovely Molly isn't a perfect horror flick, though, as there are a few points where actors do not sound convincing. For instance, there's a scene in which Molly's husband Tim speaks to another person about one of Molly's violent fits of rage. Rather than sounding terrified of the event, his voice belied moderate irritation. He also seems to regard his obviously mentally ill wife as an inconvenience rather than a major problem that he should be addressing. You'd think that someone who knowingly married a recovered drug addict would have the presence of mind to get his wife professional help before she slid more than halfway down the spiral, or that he would at least sound genuinely concerned rather than slightly annoyed. Actress Gretchen Lodge, though she does a wonderful job of portraying Molly at her craziest, also misses a few notes (although not very often) and sounds unconvincing during a some scenes.
Regardless of the few small instances of unconvincing acting, Lovely Molly is an engaging watch for viewers who enjoy "feel-bad" movies. Understand one thing about it, though: it's less likely to cause you to sleep with lights on, but more likely to leave you desiring a sponge bath with a Brillo pad upon its conclusion. It may be a difficult film for most folks to sit through, but that's the horror genre for you...
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