Of all the haunted house movies I have reviewed, Lovely Molly is by far the most disturbing. There is madness. Rape. Murder. Sounds like a standard horror movie so far, eh? Um, not quite. There are films that deal with these same horrific themes, but by the movie’s end, any disquieting feelings on the part of viewers are left behind in the theaters or concealed within the DVD box. However, there is this raw quality about Lovely Molly that allows it to hammer those brutal themes deep into the psyche like nails into the coffin.
With your average slasher film, murder is part of the “game” and the remains of victims are often sprawled about in a way that is mimicked by Halloween yard decorations. Lovely Molly shows close ups of a murdered victim – body bloated, draping arms of a purplish hue, sightless eyes wide open…still open…not going to close.. ever. Insanity has become comical with the likes of Jack Nicholson in movies such as The Shining (Heeeeeere’s Johnny!). There is nothing humorous about poor Molly’s plight into madness. There are the non-erotic nude scenes with Molly in near fetal position; vulnerable, beyond help. When it came to certain scenes where she acted out violently, I had to turn away from the screen. Then there’s rape, never a subject to be taken lightly. While there are no scenes of forced penetration, the implications of such brutal acts are there and they are just as unsettling, perhaps even more so.
All this said, this is well made film. Admittedly, it’s difficult to watch. It is NOT for the timid or easily frazzled viewer. I’ll be honest; I was not in the right emotional state when I began watching this movie. I had to turn it off. I continued it the next day.
It is directed and partially written by Eduardo Sanchez, the same guy at the helm of The Blair Witch Project. So yes, a good part of the film is shown through the eyes of a video camera operated by one of the movie’s main characters. Ah but relax all you Blair Witch Project haters, the camera doesn’t shake! Not one bit.
On the surface, the story is simple. Newlyweds Molly and Tim move into Molly’s childhood house. It is haunted. But by what? This is where the story gets more complex. It is Molly that is on the receiving end of the terror. Her husband and sister cannot figure out what is troubling her. Is she haunted by hallucinations? A tormented past? Ghosts? Demons? Or all of the above? The film leaves this vague, appropriately so. An unknown assailant is one of the scariest of all tormentors. Isn’t that what fear is all about anyway, the apprehension of the unknown?
Another terrorizing agent of equal stature is one’s own mind. For me, the manifestation of fear is most traumatizing when the object of such fear originates from your own head. It is terrifying when reality is deemed untrustworthy. One’s own traumatic confusion about the “objective” world is far more frightening than a ghost that is visible to all.
However, I don’t mean to imply that ghosts and/or demons are absent from this film. All I’m saying is that maybe they’re there and maybe they’re not. Or maybe they are present in a figurative sense. It’s up to you to decide.
Everything I have written so far is based exclusively on the film. The DVD comes with extra features. There are four short segments. I recommend skipping these. They are tempting to watch on account of the film being vague. To alleviate confusion, I went for the bonus material. Bad mistake! The bonus material removes all of the mystery from the film. How does it do that? I’m not gonna tell ya, cause then it will be me that ruins the mystery. I am not, nor have I ever been a “ruiner.” Trust me, just skip it.
Since this is a brutal and disconcerting film, it’s difficult to call it ‘enjoyable.’ None of it was “encased in ‘joy.’” But it is a decent film and I recommend it for those who can withstand it. It’s not a film for everyone.
**** Here’s an interesting side note. The soundtrack for the film is composed by Tortoise. This is a Chicago based indie/post punk band. My friend is really into them but I confess that I am not that familiar with them. After seeing this movie, I am still unfamiliar with them because for the life of me, I can’t remember any music in the film. And, there appears not to be a soundtrack that is for sale. So I don’t know how I can ever hear what Tortoise did for this film. Boo hoo! I guess I’ll just explore their standard studio albums.