Stemming from the popularity of The Blair Witch Project in 1999
from the popularity of The Blair Witch Project in 1999 (which in turn was
influenced by 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust), the found footage theme has become a
staple of the modern horror film. There have been too many to name in recent years, the good
and the bad, with the Paranormal
Activity fourth instalment out this week. However, now Blair Witch director, Eduardo Sánchez returns to what he knows with a few alterations
with Lovely Molly.
Newlyweds Molly and Tim move in to Molly’s empty and secluded
childhood home, preparing to start a new life together. However, strange things begin to happen
in the house, particularly when Tim leaves on long work trips, leaving Molly
solitary in a large, eerie house with creaking floors and deep, dark shadows. Whilst alone she becomes increasingly
afflicted by painful memories of her father, hearing strange whispers in the
silence. As Molly’s emotional
state deteriorates, it becomes unclear whether she is descending into madness
or whether a sinister, supernatural force is at work.
Lovely Molly is decidedly more polished than Blair Witch,
with a more complex plotline and some admirable performances. Sánchez dampens down the found footage,
restricting it to some clips of Molly recording herself, an unknown person
secretly filming from the woods and some excerpts of a wedding video. For the majority of the film he relies
on standard filming with some great shots and the movie is all the better for
it. The fear and suspense is
abundant in the first half of the film, but the plot gradually becomes more and
more ambiguous. Why would Molly
move back to and remain in such a terrifying house with disturbing memories? Is it really Molly behind the camera recording
the footage from the woods? Why do
Tim or her sister Hannah never get Molly the help that she is clearly crying
out for? These obscurities
continue throughout the film. They
are of course intentional so you attribute them to Molly’s state of mind and
vulnerability or the creepy events going on around her but there is a point
where this becomes less clever and more tiresome for the audience.
That said the plot is backed up by some strong
performances. Lodge is superb as Molly;
particularly admirable considering this is one of her first big acting roles. She carries the film, fearlessly portraying
Molly’s transformation from sweet, mousey girl to crazed, paranoid woman
seeking sexual gratification and drugs to numb her existence. Holden, best known for her cutesy
television role in Friends, is
almost unrecognisable as Molly’s well-meaning sister, with her peroxide hair
and visible signs of a traumatised past.
She is very believable as a loving mother trying to make the most of her
modest future and protect her sister.
There is nothing like a haunted house to bring the ghost
genre to life and the lonely, isolated dwelling in Lovely Molly is no exception
– it is silent enough to hear a whisper.
As such the muttering voices, footsteps and banging doors become all the
more terrifying. However, this
film is unlikely to scare you out of your wits – the tension is there but it
never climaxes. Ultimately, reminiscent
of ghostly horrors like The Entity and
this year’s The Pact, Lovely Molly
is an unnerving, tragic story with only just enough
scares to creep you out this Halloween.