The first-person video camera horror genre has been very successful of late, with films such as [Rec] and Paranormal Activity terrifying viewers by trapping them in the midst of a character’s torment. With his latest film, Lovely Molly, director Eduardo Sanchez returns to the genre he helped to pioneer over ten years ago, when the hugely successful The Blair Witch Project stormed the box office.
However this time, footage from the camera of protagonist Molly (Gretchen Lodge) has not been found, rather we are seeing a document of her degrading sanity in this psychological horror. The film tells the story of newlywed Molly, a recovering heroin addict who returns to her long abandoned family home with her husband Tim (Johnny Lewis).
It is a move out of necessity, for the couple cannot afford anywhere else. However once living in the house, a malevolent force starts to torment Molly relentlessly, overwhelming her. Could it be a supernatural force? Or is it the awakening of Molly’s own sinister past? There is an evil presence which ruthlessly destroys Molly’s sanity – threatening to endanger those she loves as well.
Lovely Molly is certainly a film with its share of scares; doors slam on their own, a child cries somewhere in the house, and a voice keeps softly whispering “lovely Molly”. Sanchez sticks to the formula that worked well in The Blair Witch Project, by keeping much of the horror off-screen, in the viewer’s imagination.
The discomfort of Lovely Molly comes in the creation of an unnerving atmosphere, rather than simply delivering jump scares. Sequences filmed from the first-person perspective of Molly are spread sparingly in the film and, despite the familiarity of the device by now, these deliver by drawing the audience into her deranged mind-set.
The driving force of Lovely Molly is the excellent central performance of newcomer Gretchen Lodge as Molly – she powerfully shows the vulnerability, and sometimes dangerous nature of her character. It is a committed feat of acting in a demanding role.
But while Lovely Molly delivers plenty of atmosphere, the rather generic and flawed plot ultimately lets the film down. The explanation for Molly’s mental instability is a predictable turn and somewhat of an easy option for the narrative to take. It is a shame considering the promise the film has at first.
So while Lovely Molly is certainly a watchable and creepy horror film, it fails to really offer anything new to the horror genre. What was so fresh when The Blair Witch Project appeared is a bit stale by now.
Written by John Martin