A hand-held camcorder accepts the task of portraying the first-person account of an event. It records the action, and by doing so records to memory what happened on a specific day, at a specific time. Lovely Molly‘s director Eduardo Sanchez pioneered the use of the first-person camera, commonly called found-footage, in his debut film alongside Daniel Myrick, The Blair Witch Project. The found-footage technique is grossly overused in cinema today, and nearly every horror movie employs it now–the low-budget aesthetic is just that, made on the cheap and eaten up by audiences. Sanchez uses his pioneering technique in Lovely Molly, taking the audience on a journey through Molly’s lens over the course of a year. The opening scene of the film starts at the end with newcomer Gretchen Lodge as Molly, distressed and shaken speaking into the camera on 10.16.11 stating “it wasn’t me” and that she is “not in control anymore.” The initial performance by Lodge in this brief scene relates the fact that she is going to be the defining core of Lovely Molly, and you are immediately hooked.
Lovely Molly is not an entirely found-footage film, though. Instead, Sanchez weaves Molly’s video recordings with standard third-person story telling. The end result is a mixture of what Molly sees, feels, encounters, and interprets through her own eyes but also what the filmmakers want to show of Molly outside of herself. Molly is always centered upon, and rarely do we see other characters unless they are in one way or another with or near Molly. But the mixture of the two types of point-of-views strengthens the film, as it feels more like a personal diary within a greater story than simply an exploitative chronicling of a woman’s decline into madness. It also provides an ever-encroaching confusion to the entire film, as Molly declines into instability her search for the truth takes the viewer on a strange and dysfunctional journey. You are never quite sure why Molly is videotaping what she is, and it makes sense given the overall theme of unexplainable actions in Lovely Molly. As time passes on you anxiously await the dates to get closer and closer to the opening scenes date of 10.16.11; it haunts you to know that on that day inexplicable things will happen, of the sort you do not yet know.
Lovely Molly succeeds in securing an exaggerated level of fear in the viewer from the anticipation of this cataclysmic event. At once you are subjected to the horrors that go bump in the night, while Molly sleeps alone in the old, memory ridden home that belonged to her father. A father that no doubt committed his fair share of crimes against his two daughters. Her husband Tim (Johnny Lewis from “Sons of Anarchy”) is a truck driver who is away for days at a time, leaving Molly alone to face her demons and thus coming home to a very different Molly each time. The relationship that develops as one of love and protection quickly turns to alarm and trepidation by Tim as Molly shows signs of violence. The kissing scene between Molly and Tim will leave you terrorized.
The horror of the past, the recollection of memories, haunts Molly’s subconscious. Whether she is mentally ill, made worse by her drug addiction that she may or may not have fallen back into, or if there really is an otherworldly presence lurking in the home is left unimagined. More than once the camera finds Molly sitting on her childhood bed, naked and frozen with emotion. Gretchen Lodge may be the smartest thing about Lovely Molly, as she is able to draw deep and perform the tensely dramatic scenes the film calls for repeatedly. Lodge maneuvers the insanity, the insecure and frightened child-woman, and the insistence of sanity as the character requires them to be realized. Just as the first scene of her confession instantly grabbed your attention she continues to do so up until the end.
Lovely Molly is a horror film that lurks inside of your mind long after it has ended. The husky taunting voice that breathes throughout the house, saying “Lovely Molly” over and over again, and singing a song that creeps under your skin. Whether you know exactly what happened at the end, or believe it to be true, is inconsequential. Lovely Molly is more about the experience of terror in a young woman’s mind, and her descent into manic episodes. That itself is more terrifying than blood and gore, but the film provides that as well in spades, and in the form of a mysterious stag.
Director: Eduardo Sanchez
Writer: Eduardo Sanchez | Story By: Jamie Nash
Executive Producers: Andy Jenkins and Robert Eick
Producers: Robin Cowie, Gregg Hale, Jane Fleming, Mark Ordesky
Cast: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis and Alexandra Holden
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributed By: Image Entertainment
Theatrical Release: May 18th, 2012 (Limited)
Production Company: Haxan Films and Amber Entertainment
Synopsis: When newlywed Molly Reynolds returns to her long-abandoned family home, frightful reminders of a nightmarish childhood begin seeping into her new life. She soon begins an inexorable descent into an evil that blurs the lines between psychosis and possession.
*For more information on Lovely Molly go to the official website here.